Mali hit with suicide attack; soldiers storm base
By Krista Larson and Baba Ahmed, APGAO, Mali -- A suicide bomber hit a checkpoint in northern Mali on Friday, killing only himself in the first known suicide bombing since French military forces intervened in this chaotic African nation whose northern half was ruled by armed Islamic extremists.
February 9, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
And in the capital Bamako, far to the south, soldiers from a unit allied with the leader of last year's military coup in Mali stormed the camp of the Red Beret presidential guard Friday morning, and at least one person was killed and five were wounded, witnesses said. The bloodshed underscores that Mali's military is in disarray and in poor shape to confront, without outside help, the well-armed Islamic extremists, many of whom have combat experience.
The suicide bombing happened in the city of Gao, which was occupied by armed Islamic extremists until French-led military forces pushed them out. It was the first known suicide bombing in Mali since France started its military intervention on Jan. 11.
Malian military spokesman Modibo Traore confirmed that a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint at the entrance to Gao around 6 a.m. on Friday. The bomber, who was wearing an explosive belt, was the only casualty. The bomber was on a motorcycle and blew himself up just before a Malian military checkpoint on the edge of Gao. Officials at a French military base in Gao declined to comment on the attack.
Friday afternoon, Malian soldiers stood guard at a building near the scene of the attack, splattered in the bomber's blood. The only other evidence of the attack were the mangled, charred remains of his bike. The Malian soldiers said that nearby villagers had taken the man's remains away and buried them before sunset, as local Muslim custom.