- Title: Mali attack toll hits 47, including five suicide bombers
- Date: 18th January 2017
- Summary: SOLDIERS LIFTING AND CARRYING INJURED SOLDIER TO NEARBY AMBULANCE VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS LINING UP DEAD BODIES SOLDIERS CARRIED INJURED SOLDIER TO AMBULANCE
- Embargoed: 1st February 2017 16:19
- Keywords: Gao Mali CMA MOC Tuareg Azawad suicide bombers military
- Location: GAO, MALI
- City: GAO, MALI
- Country: Mali
- Topics: Bombing (non-military),Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA0035ZM06RR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
At least 47 people, including five suicide bombers, were killed on Wednesday (January 18) when a vehicle packed with explosives was detonated inside a military camp in the northern Mali city of Gao, the government said.
Army spokesman Diarran Kone said a further 115 people were wounded in the worst militant attack in years in the Saharan West African nation.
The blast, which occurred as hundreds of soldiers assembled at around 9 a.m. (0900 GMT), left dozens of bodies lying on the ground alongside the wounded.
Ambulances rushed to the scene and helicopters circled overhead as Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita declared three days of national mourning.
A spokeswoman for the 13,000-strong United Nations MINUSMA peacekeeping force said the death toll could rise as high as 50.
The camp was home to government soldiers and members of various rival armed groups which are jointly patrolling Mali's restive desert north in line with a U.N.-brokered peace accord.
A French-led military intervention in 2013 drove back Islamist militants, including al Qaeda-linked groups, that had seized northern Mali a year earlier.
However, Islamist militants still operate in the region and insecurity is aggravated by tensions between local rebel groups and pro-government militias.
French interior minister Bruno Le Roux described the blast as a "major and highly symbolic attack" in an area visited only days ago by French President Francois Hollande.
Gao is a dusty town of 50,000 people on the banks of the Niger river. Underscoring the dangers of trying to bring stability to the southern reaches of the Sahel, the offices of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Gao were flattened by a truck bomb in December.
The MINUSMA mission has staff from 123 nations, costs $1 billion a year and is the United Nations' most dangerous deployment, with more than 100 casualties before Wednesday's blast.
In addition, France maintains a 4,000-strong parallel peacekeeping operation, "Barkhane" and the European Union has 580 instructors training the Malian army.
Before Wednesday's blast, the worst militant attack on the former French colony was a November 2015 assault by jihadist gunmen on a Radisson hotel in the capital, Bamako, in which 20 people were killed.
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