A bus traveling in northern Mali was blown by a mine on Monday, killing at least four people, police and administrative officials said. “A bus hit a mine near Ansongo,” a small town about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gao,” the regional hub, a Malian military officer in the area said by phone.
“At least four civilians, including a teenage girl, were killed. There were injured as well.” A local official, added: “It was jihadists who laid the bomb in order to terrorize local people, whom they accuse of providing information to the security forces.”
The passengers were heading to a weekly fair in a location several dozen kilometers from Ansongo, the Gao region transport association said in a statement. “There’s no safety,” said Oumar Guire, a member of the association. “There are attacks by armed robbers, or jihadists who put down mines in the road.”
Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012 at the expense of Tuareg rebels, but were chased out of Sahara towns by an ongoing French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
In mid-2015, a peace accord was signed with Tuareg leaders aimed at isolating the jihadists. But much of the region remains lawless, despite efforts by Mali’s army, French soldiers and a UN force, MINUSMA.