Soldiers killed 203 militants, arrested 51 people and seized large quantities of weapons, according to the army's statement. Photograph:( AFP )
About 40 civilians were killed this week in this zone where rival jihadist groups, including the so-called Islamic State, operate, locals told AFP
An air raid on a rebel base "neutralised" 57 "terrorists" in northern Mali where eight soldiers were also killed in fighting, the army said Saturday.
Friday's air force strike targeted a "terrorist base" and "violent clashes" led to the soldiers' deaths, a statement said.
The troops were targeted by "unidentified armed men" in the Archam region near the border with restive Burkina Faso and Niger, the statement said.
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About 40 civilians were killed this week in this zone where rival jihadist groups, including the so-called Islamic State, operate, locals told AFP.
The civilians were considered to be loyal to rival jihadist groups, according to the local sources.
Mali is at the epicentre of a Sahel-wide jihadist conflict, which has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians and displaced some two million people.
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Rival jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State not only carry out regular attacks on national and foreign troops, but are also fighting each other for territory.