At least 25 Malian soldiers were killed and 60 others have been missing after a suspected al-Qaeda-linked attack targeted two army camps in central Mali on Monday, the government said.
The toll is among the highest suffered by Malian forces this year as they struggle to contain militant groups with links to al-Qaida or Islamic State that have set up operations in parts of Mali from where they launch attacks across the Sahel.
Local media said military posts at Boulkessi and Mondoro were targeted in the latest attacks this year orchestrated by militant groups with links to al-Qaeda.
In response, the army has launched a joint operation with forces from neighboring Burkina Faso, backed up by French troops stationed in the region, the statement said.
Tensions erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a Tuareg rebellion that ultimately allowed al-Qaeda-linked militant groups to take over the northern half of the country.