Twin attacks on the army in central Mali killed six soldiers, while some 30 suspected jihadists were also left dead in a fightback with help from French troops, the military said Sunday.
"The provisional toll is six dead and 18 wounded" among the soldiers, the army said in a statement, adding that "thanks to quick reactions and effective coordination between the Malian army and French Barkhane forces, the attackers were routed" leaving around 30 dead.
It was not immediately clear what the role of the French troops in the engagement was, although a Malian military source told AFP French aircraft destroyed several "terrorist" targets.
The raids occurred at Boulkessy and Mondoro in the violence-wracked centre of the Sahel country.
The "complex and simultaneous" attacks occurred at around 3:30 am (0330 GMT), the army said, with a local official in Mondoro estimating that the fighting continued for around an hour.
Some 40 motorcycles and a large amount of military gear were seized from the attackers, according to the army.
A number of wounded soldiers were evacuated by helicopter, a medical source said.
In September 2019, the same army positions were targeted in one of the deadliest attacks to hit Mali since 2012, with some 50 soldiers killed.
That double attack was later claimed by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel region affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
On Thursday, three other Malian soldiers were killed in a bomb blast in the Mondoro area.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)