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Seven Malian soldiers killed in clash with militants - army

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BAMAKO (Reuters) – Seven Malian soldiers were killed and 15 wounded when militants attacked a patrol in northern Mali on Monday, the army said in a statement.

The West African country is still reeling from an attack on an army post that killed 54 in early November – one of the deadliest strikes against its military in recent memory and which underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed jihadist groups active in the wider region.

In the latest incident, a Malian patrol was attacked in Tabankort, Gao region, while on a joint operation with Niger against militants operating near the shared border.

“During this attack, Malian forces suffered seven deaths, 15 wounded as well as equipment damage,” the army said.

It did not name the assailants or identify which group they belonged to. From strongholds in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.

(Reporting by Paul Lorgerie; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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