Suicide bombers target northern Mali military camp


BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Suicide bombers blew up their vehicle near a military camp in Mali's northern city of Timbuktu, killing two civilians and wounding seven people, the camp's commander said Saturday.

The attack was the second to target security forces in the north since Thursday's announcement that separatist Tuareg rebels were suspending participation in a peace accord reached earlier this year with the government.

Two civilians were killed by the car bomb along with the attackers, and four soldiers were wounded at the entrance to the military camp, said Mohamed Ibrahim Cisse, the president of the regional assembly.

"In the town, the explosion caused several houses to collapse, which resulted in at least three civilians coming to the emergency room at Timbuktu's hospital," he said.

The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, which is working to help secure the country's north, strongly condemned the attack.

Bert Koenders said the U.N. mission known as MINUSMA "will continue to support the Malian people and their authorities so that peace and stability are restored across the entire region."

Timbuktu resident Abdoulaye Cisse said he saw a 4x4 vehicle positioned in front of the camp before the explosion.

"The force of the explosion was so strong that the wall and the gate of the camp were razed, and another house fell in the city because of the earthquake caused by the explosion," Cisse said. "I saw an ambulance come to take people to the hospital."

In a separate attack on Friday in Kidal, a grenade was thrown at a bank, wounding two security officers, said Kidal zone commander Mamary Camara.

"The grenade which was launched from a neighboring house at the bank wounded two people. One is lightly injured and he has already left the hospital, and the other has a minor injury and is still at the hospital," Camara said. "We arrested one person found in the house where the grenade was thrown, and an investigation is ongoing."

The same Kidal bank was targeted in a grenade attack two weeks ago that resulted in no injuries. Many Kidal residents are hostile to the presence of the Malian military.

Northern Mali fell to a mix of rebel groups including Tuareg separatists and al-Qaida-linked Islamist extremists following a coup in March 2012. A French-led military intervention launched in January drove the Islamists from major cities.

But Tuareg separatists remained in Kidal, turning it into a de facto Tuareg state.

In June, talks between Tuareg leaders and Mali's transitional administration yielded an agreement that allowed the Malian military to return to Kidal and for the July 2013 presidential election to be held.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who won the election in an August runoff, has made reconciliation a priority for his new government, even naming a minister responsible for the effort and for developing the north.

On Thursday, however, this effort was dealt a significant blow by the announcement from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad that it would be pulling out of the June accord.