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Conflict

Deadly car bomb attack in northern Mali

Several people have been killed in a suicide attack in Mali's northern town of Kidal, the second to hit the area in a week. The attacker struck a checkpoint manned by MNLA Tuareg separatists supporting French forces.

Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA ride in a pickup truck in the northeastern town of Kidal (Photo via REUTERS)

Tuareg/MLNA/Mali/Kidal

At least seven people were killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle at a checkpoint on a road heading southeast from Kidal, the MNLA said.

"The provisional total of this attack against an MNLA checkpoint is seven dead MNLA fighters as well as several injured," the rebel group said in a statement.

Modibo Nama Traore, a spokesman for the Malian army, confirmed that the bombing had taken place but was unable to offer more details.

The attack follows a similar incident on Thursday in which two people were killed in car bombings in Kidal. Another five people were killed in attacks in In Khalil on the Mali-Aligerian border a day later. MUJWA, an offshoot from al Qaeda's northern affiliate AQIM, claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Kidal, which is around 1,530 kilometers (950 miles) northeast of the Malian capital Bamako, lies in the foothills of the Adrah des IIfoghas mountains. French and Chadian forces, backed by the MNLA Tuareg's have been battling al Qaeda-linked militants driven into the mountains during France's military intervention in January.

France successfully ousted Islamist fighters from large swathes of northern Mali which were seized last year. The Tuareg group had initially been allied to the insurgents who were taking advantage of instability in the country resulting from a military coup. The Tuaregs were quickly pushed aside, however, and have since sided with French forces.

ccp/jm (AFP, Reuters)