November 25, 2014 / 3:40 PM / 5 years ago

Two Malian soldiers killed in landmine explosion

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Two soldiers died and nine were injured when a government minister’s convoy hit a mine in northern Mali on Tuesday, a colonel in the Malian army said.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible. Al Qaeda-linked Islamists continue to carry out attacks despite a French-led intervention last year to drive them out of the desert north.

“This morning on the road to Bourem, a vehicle which was part of the ministerial convoy was hit by an explosive device,” said Colonel Souleymane Maiga, referring to a town in Gao region.

“It’s a heavy toll, with two soldiers killed and nine injured, including four seriously.”

Rural Development Minister Bocari Treta was unharmed. In a separate incident on Tuesday, a mine exploded beneath a water truck near Tessalit, in the Kidal region of north Mali, a spokesperson for the U.N. peace-keeping mission said.

Two people were reported injured.

A third and final round of peace negotiations began in Algiers last week between the Malian government and a grouping of mostly Tuareg rebels operating in the north.

Officially, the rebels have split with their former Islamist allies but a French general in the military “Operation Barkhane” said last month he suspected ties remain.

Suspected Islamist fighters kidnapped 10 children on Saturday and killed two others who tried to escape in northern Mali.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Roche/Ruth Pitchford

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