A suicide bomber killed four Malian soldiers on Sunday, the army said, in the second deadly attack this weekend in the country’s troubled north.
Mali’s deteriorating security situation is of growing concern as Al-Qaeda-linked groups mount increasingly ferocious attacks on domestic and foreign forces.
“A terrorist suicide bomber was destroyed this morning, Sunday, January 28, 2018, in Menaka as he attempted to blow himself up on the approach to an army and national guard post,” a statement by the armed forces posted on social media said.
“Unfortunately during this operation, four armed forces personnel lost their lives,” it added.
A Malian military source told AFP earlier there was more than one attacker, blaming jihadists, adding that the armed forces were now “in control of the situation”. A local official told AFP rockets were launched at the site.
Meanwhile French helicopters were circling the area, the sources said.
The attack comes the day after 14 soldiers were killed and 18 wounded when suspected jihadists seized control of their camp in Soumpi, near Timbuktu in northern Mali and about 800km east of Menaka.
And on Thursday 26 civilians including mothers and infants were killed when their vehicle ran over a landmine in Boni, central Mali, leading President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to cancel plans to attend an African Union summit in order to visit the area.
Keita told victims’ families: “All of Mali was in mourning, all of Mali is appalled” over the high civilian death toll.
“Everyone knows what we are going through… Every day we do what we can,” he added.
Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of the former French colony in early 2012, but were largely driven out in an ongoing French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
In June 2015, Mali’s government signed a peace agreement with coalitions of non-jihadist armed groups. But Islamist insurgents remain active, and large tracts of the country are lawless.