Mali landmine kills five, injures 18


Five civilians were killed and a further 18 wounded in central Mali when their passenger vehicle hit a landmine, the local governor said, two weeks after 26 travellers died in a similar incident in the area.

The explosion occurred on Friday between Dera and Konna in the Mopti region, where Islamist militants stepped up attacks on civilian and military targets, said Governor Sidi Alassane Toure, blaming the attack on “terrorists”.
“We must no longer accept living under the same roof as terrorists, we must no longer accept sharing a meal with a terrorist, or living in the same village with a terrorist,” Toure said on state radio.

Militants in Mali’s restive centre and north have pledged loyalty to international groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State, the jihadists draw chiefly on local grievances against the central government and ethnic rivalries.

A UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, thousands of French troops across the Sahel region and a new regional security task force have all been unable to stem attacks, raising concerns about security for Mali’s presidential election this year.

An intervention by French troops in 2013 drove back al Qaeda-linked militants who seized control of Mali’s desert north. In recent years jihadists extended their reach into wetter, more populated central regions.

They use Mali as a launch pad for raids into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, including one last October that killed four US Special Forces soldiers.

Late last month, a landmine explosion in Mopti region killed 26 people and wounded several others, many from Burkina Faso. Two days later, unidentified gunmen killed at least 14 soldiers in a pre-dawn assault on a military camp in central Mali.