A group linked to al Qaeda’s North African affiliate has said it carried out a suicide bombing at a military camp in northern Mali earlier on Wednesday that killed dozens of people and injured over 100.
The claim was carried by the Mauritanian news agency Alakhbar.
The group Al Mourabitoun has carried out a number of high-profile attacks in several West African countries.
Reports quoting the Malian president’s office put the number of dead at 60. Militants struck inside the camp in Gao, northern Mali’s main city, as hundreds of soldiers were assembling. The bombers burst into the premises and ran over several people before blowing up their vehicle.
The deadliest attack in the country’s history, it struck at the heart of fragile efforts by the government and rival armed groups to work together to quell violence that has plagued the region for years.
The camp housed government soldiers and members of the rival groups who were soon to begin conducting joint patrols under a UN-brokered peace deal, to allow the government to focus on fighting Islamist militants.
President Hollande of France visited the area only days ago. A French-led military intervention in 2013 drove back insurgent groups which had seized northern Mali a year earlier.
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has declared three days of national mourning.
I would like to offer my condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Mali – Ladsous to #UNSC on Mali.— UN Peacekeeping (@UNPeacekeeping) January 18, 2017