Thirty-seven people have been killed in northern Mali after a car bomb detonated in a military base. Officials say that the Mali car bomb incident occurred when a vehicle which had been packed with explosives detonated at the camp which housed both soldiers and members of rival armed groups in the city of Gao.
The region has been very tense since late 2012 when it was captured by militant Islamists. There was a French military intervention in 2013 but attacks and kidnappings continued randomly.
The AFP news agency quotes a source at the UN Mission in Mali (Minusma) as categorizing the Mali car bomb incident as a suicide attack. The victims in the attack were conducting patrols in the tense area as part of a deal backed by the UN, aiming to stop the violence there.
Military personnel in Mali have also formerly been attacked. In July last year, for instance, 17 soldiers were killed and 30 wounded in an attack on a military base in the central town of Nampala and the attackers had set parts of the camp on fire before taking off.
The army, speaking to Reuters, put the number of victims killed in the attack at 25, which differs from the 37 victims that a UN source told the AFP news agency.
The armed groups operating in Mali in recent years have, however, been pegged as ethnic Tuareg separatists and jihadist militants. About 15,000 UN peacekeepers are in the country following France’s intervention in 2013 to oust al-Qaeda-linked militants from the north of the country.
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has declared three days of national mourning in a tweet following the news of the bombing.