Four killed in suicide bomb attack in Timbuktu: Mali army

TIMBUKTU Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:55pm EDT

TIMBUKTU (Reuters) - At least four people were killed and several wounded in a suicide car-bomb attack in Timbuktu on Saturday, the first since Mali's presidential election aimed at ending months of chaos following a Tuareg uprising that led to a military coup.

The attack also comes a few days after Tuareg separatists pulled out of a ceasefire agreement and peace process with the new Malian government.

Witnesses said the suicide bombers detonated their vehicle near the Malian army camp in Timbuktu, killing both occupants of the vehicle and two passerby.

"The city was shaken by a loud explosion followed by the crackling of machine-gun fire," Fatoumata Cisse, whose house is near the military camp said by telephone.

Mali's army spokesman told Reuters in the capital Bamako that the two suicide bombers and two occupants of a transport cart were killed.

"Some soldiers were wounded. A part of the wall of the military camp collapsed after the explosion, but our men are in control of the situation now," Diarran Kone said.

Mali's new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita who was elected in the July-August election, has promised to make security a top priority as the country battles the remnants of Islamist militant groups who occupied the north of the country for over nine months.

A French-led ground and air offensive in January drove out the Islamists but pockets remain in the vast Sahel nation, about twice the size of its former colonial master, from where they have carried out insurgent attacks.

The United Nations has approved a force expected to number about 12,600 soldiers and police officers once fully deployed, to help stabilize and secure the country.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra; Writing by Bate Felix; editing by David Evans)