At least 42 people were killed when an explosives-laden vehicle blew up at a military camp in Mali's northern city of Gao on Wednesday, the government said.
Authorities said that five suicide bomber took part in the attack.
Army spokesperson Diarran Kone said a further 115 people were wounded in what is the worst attack in years in the Saharan west African nation.
The camp was housing government soldiers as well as members of various rival armed groups, who together conduct mixed patrols in line with a UN-brokered peace accord aimed at quelling violence in Mali's restive desert north.
French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux described the deadly car bomb as a "major and highly symbolic attack." The attack took place in an area visited days ago by French President Francois Hollande.
France sent troops to Mali at the request of the government in early 2013 to prevent an advance by militants on the capital Bamako.