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Mali weekend attack killed 23 soldiers in total - army

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BAMAKO (Reuters) – The final casualty toll from a weekend attack by suspected jihadists on a Malian army base was 23 soldiers killed, the army said in a statement on Monday.

Gunmen attacked and briefly seized a Malian army base early on Sunday in the village of Dioura, in the central Mopti region, with initial estimates of the death toll at 16.

“You are not alone. All peace loving Malians support you,” Defence Minister Tiemoko Sangare was quoted as saying while addressing Malian troops on a visit to Dioura.

“Do not listen to the siren songs whose sole purpose is to destabilise the country,” he added.

Violence by jihadist groups has worsened almost every year since it first exploded in Mali in 2012, when Islamists and allied Tuareg rebels took over the north and advanced towards the capital, Bamako. A French-led intervention pushed them back the following year.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Souleymane Ag Anara, Writing by Tim Cocks, Editing by William Maclean)

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