(Adds detail on new envoy for peace talks)
BAMAKO, April 23 A mine exploded in the northern
Malian town of Kidal on Wednesday, seriously injuring a United
Nations peacekeeper from Guinea but not affecting a delegation
of visiting diplomats, a U.N. spokesman said.
There was no immediate claim for the blast but al
Qaeda-linked Islamists who seized northern Mali in 2012 have
carried out a series of insurgent-style attacks since they were
scattered across the Sahara by a French-led offensive last year.
Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the U.N. mission, known as
MINUSMA, said a U.N. vehicle struck a mine near Kidal's airport
but the vehicle was not part of the security detail for the
Bamako-based diplomats visiting the town, a flashpoint for
Salgado said the peacekeeper was from Guinea's contingent in
the U.N. mission.
The ambassadors of Germany and Denmark, a Canadian diplomat
and several senior U.N. officials were visiting the town when
the explosion occurred but they are all safe, the sources said.
Last year, French troops and air strikes drove the al
Qaeda-linked fighters from the towns they occupied. Since then,
Mali has held presidential and parliamentary elections and U.N.
peacekeepers have deployed across much of the vast desert zone.
Pockets of Islamists still carry out sporadic attacks and
the lack of progress in talks with local Tuareg and Arab rebel
groups is stoking tensions.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on Wednesday named former
prime minister Modibo Keita to lead peace negotiations with
armed groups, according to a cabinet statement that gave no
further details. Keita had previously said there would be no
talks unless the groups laid down their arms.
(Writing by David Lewis and Matthew Mpoke Bigg; Editing by