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UN peacekeepers killed in Mali

A bomb explosion killed and wounded several members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali in the troubled northern city of Kidal, a spokesman for the mission said Saturday.

"There was an explosion this morning and the info I have is that there were several dead and wounded among the blue helmets," Fred Fath, the mission spokesman, told The Associated Press.

An intelligence official in northern Mali said the dead included two Senegalese peacekeepers. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

At the same time, at least 80 Islamic radicals carried out a second attack, on a Tuareg camp in the town of Teringuite, also in northern Mali, according to the intelligence official. He said that fighters from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa attacked the camp on Saturday. He said the group was led by Abou Dardar, a commander who was among those who invaded and held the famous city of Timbuktu in northern Mali in 2012. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties from the second attack.

The back-to-back assaults are the worst to have rocked northern Mali in recent weeks, and come as France rushes troop to the Central African Republic, its former colony, where at least 600 have died in a week of sectarian violence. The French military deployed in Mali, another ex-colony, in January.

In the Kidal attack, the car packed with explosives detonated in front of a bank guarded by the peacekeepers, the intelligence official said. The explosion blew open the doors of houses in the area.

Abdallah Ag Ibrahim, a resident of Kidal, said the bank crumbled, a U.N. armoured personnel car caught fire, and a nearby school was in flames. He said he saw four people who were either dead or injured.

The Canadian Press


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