Mali: Death Toll in Jihadist Ambush on Soldiers Hits 23

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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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