Two aid workers killed in Mali landmine blast

BAMAKO: Two Malian aid workers were killed when their vehicle drove over a landmine in restive northwest Mali, officials told AFP on Friday.
“Two Malian humanitarian workers, who were on board a UNHCR vehicle, were killed when their vehicle blew up Thursday on a landmine in the north-west of Mali,” an official from the governorate of Timbuktu told AFP.
The blast took place near Goundam, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Timbuktu, said local police officer Nouhoum Diabate. “I saw two bodies blown to smithereens,” he said, adding that the two aid workers were employees of the Norwegian Refugee Council. According to a regional security source, militant Islamist groups have recently begun placing landmines in northern Mali “to hurt opposition troops”. 
Mali descended into crisis in January 2012, when Tuareg separatists group MNLA launched the latest in a string of insurgencies in the north, which the army was ill-equipped to defend. A coup in Bamako led to chaos, and militants linked to Al-Qaeda overpowered the Tuareg to seize control of Mali’s northern desert. A French-led military operation launched in January 2013 ousted the extremists, but sporadic attacks have continued and the Tuareg demand for autonomy has not been resolved. 

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