Two civilians killed by mine in Mali

United Nations soldiers patrol on July 27, 2013 in the northern Malian city of Kidal (AFP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard)

Bamako (AFP) - At least two civilians were killed when their car drove over a landmine in a rebel stronghold in northeastern Mali, military sources told AFP on Sunday.

The incident happened on Friday night in the same area where 10 Chadian soldiers in the United Nations' MINUSMA peacekeeping force were killed by three landmine explosions over the last two weeks.

"At least two civilians were killed in the night from Friday to Saturday in northeastern Mali, near the town of Aguelhok, when their car hit a mine," a Malian army source told AFP, adding that others had been wounded.

A soldier from MINUSMA said the vehicle was transporting five sheep, which were also killed.

Five UN peacekeepers from Chad were killed the day before when their truck drove over a mine in the Aguelhok locality, 150 kilometres (90 miles) south of the Algerian border, in the restive Kidal region.

Riven by ethnic rivalries, a Tuareg rebellion and an Islamist insurgency in its vast desert north, Mali has struggled for stability and peace since a military coup in 2012.

The Bamako government and various rebel groups, mostly Tuareg but also including Arab organisations, are seeking to resolve a decades-old conflict which created a power vacuum in the desert north that was exploited by Al-Qaeda.

The attacks follow the restart of negotiations between the Mali government and six armed rebel groups in the Algerian capital aimed at clinching a lasting peace agreement in the deeply-divided nation.

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