Ambulance hits mine in Mali, six dead

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Six civilians, including a pregnant woman, were killed in southern Mali when the ambulance they were in hit a landmine, the health ministry said.

It was not clear who was responsible for laying the mine, but the Friday incident represented a first for the southern Sikasso region, said Mama Coumare, the ministry’s secretary-general.

Militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State routinely attack soldiers and civilians in northern and central Mali, but the south has been largely spared.

“The ambulance left Yorosso to bring a pregnant woman to Boura,” Coumare told Reuters. “All passengers were killed – six deaths, mostly women.”

Military officers overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last month, decrying, among others, his failure to address worsening insecurity caused by jihadists and ethnic militias.

The violence destabilised neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger despite the presence of thousands of French troops and UN peacekeepers in the semi-arid Sahel region.

Eight civilians from the Dogon ethnic group were killed on Wednesday by suspected jihadist fighters in central Mali’s Mopti region, local officials said.

The attack followed a several weeks long lull in tit-for-tat killings between rival ethnic groups in central Mali coinciding with peace talks brokered by al Qaeda-linked militants.

Negotiations about a transition back to civilian rule after the August 18 coup were due to finish on Saturday following consideration of a proposal calling for the ruling junta to appoint an interim president to govern for the next two years.