The dramatic assault highlights the challenges ahead for the Malian and French forces, who initially drove the militants out of the city after facing little resistance.
‘‘Have we finished? No. Because there are still, in a more or less organized way, groups that can carry out attacks or guerrilla operations,’’ Hollande said at a news conference Monday with the president of Nigeria, the country commanding the West African military mission in Mali.
While the suicide bombers have not killed anyone other than themselves, residents said at least one of them had been living in a known jihadist hideout for seven months. The house where the young man stayed also had been visited by the one-eyed Algerian terror leader Moktar Belmoktar, who was the architect of last month’s attack on a BP plant in Algeria in which at least 37 people were killed.
In the former jihadist stronghold of Timbuktu, meanwhile, the Malian military continued to receive tips from civilians about stores of ammunition left behind by the Islamic extremists.
On Monday, a unit led by Capt. Adama Diarra received a phone call alerting it to a stash of grenades hidden inside a carton for powdered milk. The box was found by children in a cemetery that the fighters had used as a part-time base, he said.
‘‘The children saw the box and they were trying to open the sachets of milk when they saw something metallic poking out. Luckily they were smart enough to call their parents, who alerted us,’’ he said. ‘‘We are continuing to find arms every day.’’
Associated Press writers Baba Ahmed and Rukmini Callimachi in Timbuktu, Mali; and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.