A Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate said a landmine it planted that killed 14 civilians when it exploded under a passenger bus targeted French troops.
Around 60 people were in the vehicle when it hit the landmine on September 3 in central Mali a haven for Islamist militants despite a five year French military operation to counter them.
Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) – an umbrella group for al Qaeda-linked militants in West Africa and the Maghreb – said it had not intended to attack the bus and offered condolences and sympathy to the relatives of those killed.
“With deep sadness and grief, we received news about the killing of a group of our brothers and children,” it said via its media arm, according to US-based SITE, which monitors jihadist websites.
“This came as the result of the detonation of a landmine mujahideen planted for patrols of the French occupation,” it said in the statement.
At least 24 civilians were wounded in the blast in addition to those killed, according to Malian authorities.