At least 10 killed in Mali, PM cancels visit
At least 10 people died in attacks in Mali on Monday, as the prime minister cancelled a visit to a central town after a vehicle sent to protect his team hit a landmine.
A bus travelling in the restive north was blown up by a mine on Monday, killing at least four people, police and administrative officials told AFP.
"A bus hit a mine near Ansongo," a small town about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Gao, the regional hub, a Malian military officer in the area said.
"At least four civilians, including a teenage girl, were killed."
A local official, reached by AFP, added: "It was jihadists who laid the bomb in order to terrorise local people, whom they accuse of providing information to the security forces."
The passengers were heading to a weekly fair in a location several dozen kilometres from Ansongo, the Gao region transport association told AFP.
"There's no safety," said Oumar Guire, a member of the association. "There are attacks by armed robbers, or jihadists who put down mines in the road."
Another attack in the country's centre killed four civilians and a soldier as two trucks chartered by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, came under assault.
"The trucks were then burnt by the jihadist attackers," a customs official said, adding that the driver of one of the vehicles was among the casualties.
- PM cancels visit -
Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga meanwhile cancelled a visit to the central town of Niafounke after one of the security vehicles being sent to the prime ministerial team hit a mine, officials and locals said.
"A soldier lost a leg and two others suffered fractures," an official from Timbuktu said, adding that three other landmines had been found near the site of the blast.
"As a precautionary measure, the prime minister's visit was cancelled."
Also in the centre of the country, six jihadists on motorcycles entered the village Fatoma, 10 kilometres from Sevare, and "killed the village chief's councillor," a local official told AFP.
Sevare is home to the new military headquarters of the "G5 Sahel", a force aimed at pooling the military resources of five desert nations -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- that launched its first operations on November 1.
Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012 at the expense of Tuareg rebels, but were chased out of Sahara towns by an ongoing French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
In mid-2015, a peace accord was signed with Tuareg leaders aimed at isolating the jihadists.
But much of the region remains lawless, despite efforts by Mali's army, French soldiers and MINUSMA.
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