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At least seven killed in two separate attacks in Mali

A series of attacks have left at least seven people dead and several others injured in Mali as militants continue to wreak havoc across the West African country. 

In the first attack, at least four people lost their lives after a bus traveling in the restive north was blown by a mine on Monday. Local officials said the deadly incident happened near Ansongo, a small town about 100 kilometers from Gao, the regional hub.

“At least four civilians, including a teenage girl, were killed. There were injured as well,” said a Malian military officer in the area.

A local official said that it was militants who “laid the bomb in order to terrorize local people, whom they accuse of providing information to the security forces.”

Oumar Guire, a member of the Gao region transport association, said passengers were heading to a weekly fair in a location several dozen kilometers from Ansongo when the attack took place.

Another attack in the country’s center killed at least three civilians as two trucks chartered by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) came under assault.

“The trucks were then burnt by the attackers,” a customs official said, adding that the driver of one of the vehicles was among the casualties.

UN peacekeepers stand guard near the airport in Timbuktu, central Mali, on February 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga canceled a visit to the central town of Niafounke after one of the security vehicles being sent to the prime ministerial team hit a mine.

An official from the Timbuktu governorate said, “A soldier lost a leg and two others suffered fractures.”

“As a precautionary measure, the prime minister’s visit was canceled.”

The official also noted that three other landmines had been found near the site of the explosion.

In 2012, key cities in Mali’s north fell under the control of militant groups linked to al-Qaeda, who exploited an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising.

Though the extremists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013, extremist groups continue to mount attacks on civilians and security forces in the arid remote north.

In mid-2015, a peace accord was signed with Tuareg leaders aimed at isolating the militants. But much of the region remains lawless, despite efforts by Mali’s army, French soldiers and MINUSMA.

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