A large surprise attack by about 100 Islamic jihadists, driving pickup trucks (technicals) and motorcycles, on a Mali military base, resulted in the deaths of 33 soldiers and the wounding of 14 others. Several other troops are missing. 

The Malian military claims to have killed 20 insurgents.

The jihadist attack took place on Monday in the town of Tessit, located 37 miles southeast of Ansongo, in the violent “Tri-Border Region” of Mali’s border with Burkina Faso and Niger. The area around the three borders has seen the most violence in the troubled Sahel region. 

No group has yet acknowledged the attack. Yet, insurgents aligned with both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) are very active in the region. 

Meanwhile, across the border from Mali in Niger, gunmen killed 58 civilians who were returning from a marketplace near the Malian border. 

The UN condemned this latest attack on the Malian armed forces, stating that all political and some non-political armed actors need to “recommit” to peace for the sake of Mali’s people.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, said on Wednesday that the violence was likely due to a “lack of political movement.” He added, in reference to the recent establishment of an interim government following the August overthrow of President Keita by the Malian military, that the UN is working with national and international partners “to ensure a smooth transition.” 

“The security situation is not going in the right direction,” Dujarric said.