Another 29 were also injured during a joint operation between troops from Mali and Niger in the Gao border region.
Mali’s army said 17 “terrorists” were killed and 100 suspects were being held in Tiloa, in Niger.
It comes weeks after 54 troops were killed in another attack – one of the deadliest in the past decade.
Details of Monday’s attack are unclear, and authorities have not identified what group the assailants belonged to.
In its Twitter account, the Malian army posted images several burned-out motorcycles, and said 70 were destroyed during the incident.
Mali has suffered violence since 2012 when Islamist militants exploited a Tuareg separatist uprising, seizing several key cities.
With help from France, its former European ruler, Malian forces regained control of territory lost to jihadis.