Four Malian soldiers were killed when their patrol was ambushed in the Timbuktu region near the town of Léré, the army said.
Although no group has claimed it, Islamist militants linked to al-Qaeda are active in the area.
France, which has deployed over 5,000 troops in Mali said on Friday it has resumed joint military operations in the country after they were suspended in May following the country’s second coup in less than a year.
The jihadist threat has been steadily growing across the Sahel region.
In neighbouring Burkina Faso thousands of people have taken part in two days of protests against the deteriorating security situation.