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Mali says four soldiers killed in ambush by suspected militants

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Guns are arranged on the ground as Nigerian soldiers prepare to board a military plane before leaving for Mali, at the airport in Nigeria's northern state of Kaduna on January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

BAMAKO, July 4 (Reuters) - Four soldiers were killed when their patrol was ambushed by suspected militants in central Mali on Sunday, the army said in a statement

The region is where Mali is battling Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The army said in a statement that the patrol was ambushed near the town of Lere on Sunday morning. "The provisional toll is at four soldiers killed," it said.

The attack comes as France, which has deployed over 5,000 counter-terrorism soldiers in Mali to help combat militants, said on Friday that it has resumed jointed military operations with Mali after they were suspended following a coup.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo Writing by Bate Felix Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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