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Death Toll in Jihadist Ambush on Malian Soldiers Hits 23


FILE - Militants of the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad stand on a dune in the deserted area of the Meneka region in Mali during an anti-jihadist patrol, Feb. 4, 2018. Suspected jihadists briefly seized a military camp in the central Mopti region on March 17, 2019.

Officials in Mali have put the death toll from Sunday's militant attack on an army camp in the village of Dioura at 23.

Suspected jihadists briefly seized the base in the central Mopti region, of which Mopti city is the capital.

Malian Defense Minister Tiemoko Sangare visited the camp Monday to encourage the soldiers.

"You are not alone. All peace-loving Malians support you. Do not listen to the siren songs whose sole purpose is to destabilize the country," he said.


Officials blamed Sunday's attack on deserter army colonel-turned-terrorist leader Ba Ag Moussa, who is said to be close to a Tuareg militant chief with ties to al-Qaida.

Islamic extremists took advantage of a brief military coup in the capital, Bamako, in 2012 to seize much of northern Mali.

French forces largely drove them out several months later, but a number of jihadists are still active and some violence continues despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers.

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