The leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger on Saturday signed a charter establishing a defence alliance, ministerial delegations from the three Sahel countries announced at a press conference.

"Today, together with the Heads of State of Burkina Faso and Niger, I signed the Liptako-Gourma Charter establishing the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), the aim of which is to establish an architecture of collective defence and mutual assistance for the benefit of our populations", the head of Mali's ruling junta, Assimi Goita, posted on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter.

The Liptako-Gourma region -- where the Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger borders meet -- has been ravaged by jihadism in recent years.

The three countries are battling a jihadist insurgency that erupted in northern Mali in 2012 and spread to Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.

All three countries have also undergone coups since 2020, most recently Niger, where soldiers in July overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum.

"This alliance will be a combination of military and economic efforts between the three countries", Mali's defence minister Abdoulaye Diop said at the press conference on Saturday.

"Our priority is the fight against terrorism in the three countries", he added.

In addition to fighting jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State group, Mali has seen a resumption of hostilities by predominantly Tuareg armed groups over the past week.

The successionist groups had in 2012 launched a rebellion before signing a peace agreement with the state in 2015.

That agreement is now generally considered moribund.