Islamist militants have attacked a military post in the north of the country killing 29 soldiers and wounding five others, officials said on Thursday.
This is the latest of several significant attacks on the military by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
From their stronghold in Mali they have destabilised the wider Sahel region especially Niger and Burkina Faso.
This is a huge setback for the Malian military.
An official statement said the soldiers were killed when jihadists attacked the base in Tarkint, north of Gao.
The army had earlier said only two soldiers died. These large-scale attacks on military targets have increased in recent months and are causing a great deal of anger in the country.
In January, 20 soldiers were killed when Islamist militants on motorbikes stormed a military camp in the central Segou region.
France said it killed dozens of jihadists in an operation last month but all the signs suggest this security crisis in the Sahel region is getting steadily worse.