BAMAKO As many as four United Nations peacekeepers were killed when a car bomb exploded in the northern Malian town of Aguelhoc on Wednesday, U.N. and diplomatic sources said.
Two sources said that four Chadian U.N. peacekeepers had been killed, while another official said the dead included Malian troops deployed in the remote northern town.
"The provisional toll is four dead and four injured and some if not all are blue helmets. But we are continuing to verify this information," said a source with Mali's U.N. peacekeeping mission, who asked not to be named.
There was no immediate comment from the U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, and it was unclear who was behind the blast.
Mali was thrown into chaos in 2012 when al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters taking advantage of a military coup in the capital Bamako hijacked a Tuareg separatist rebellion to seize the West African nation's desert north.
A French-led military intervention pushed them back last year, but Islamist fighters are blamed for continuing sporadic violence, including attacks on vehicles with improvised landmines.
The U.N. and Mali's international partners are seeking to salvage a foundering northern peace process following a spate of renewed clashes between government forces and Tuareg rebels last month.
(Reporting by Joe Penney; Additional reporting by David Lewis in Dakar; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Hugh Lawson)