50 killed, 115 hurt in Mali suicide bombing

BAMAKO (Mali) • A suicide bombing on a camp grouping former rebels and pro-government militia in troubled northern Mali yesterday left 47 people dead, the United Nations and local sources said.

The president's office ordered three days of national mourning following the attack, the worst in the country in recent years.

A member of the UN peacekeeping mission Minusma, who asked not to be identified, initially put the death toll at 37, but government sources later said 50 people had been killed and 115 hurt.

"The suicide bomber came in a vehicle and blew himself up," the Minusma source said. The attack took place at 8.40am as the former rival groups "were due to soon leave on a joint patrol", the source added.

The camp is located in Gao, a former bastion for Malian rebels and Islamist fighters who together seized control of much of the country's vast arid north in early 2012.

It was set up under a 2015 peace deal signed between the government and various militia and rebel groups following a French-led international military intervention that was launched in 2013 and is still in place.

The attack occurred as former rebels in the Tuareg-led group Coordination of Azawad Movements and former members of a pro-government militia prepared to go on a joint patrol, under the terms of the peace accord.

Implementation of the peace accord has been piecemeal, with insurgents still active across large parts of the region.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline '50 killed, 115 hurt in Mali suicide bombing'. Print Edition | Subscribe