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SATURDAY, 19 APR 2014
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At least 2 UN troops dead in north Mali suicide attack
Agence France Presse
FILE - In this Sunday, July, 28, 2013 file photo, a United Nations peacekeeper stands guard at the entrance to a polling station covered in separatist flags and graffiti supporting the creation of the independent state of Azawad, in Kidal, Mali. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
FILE - In this Sunday, July, 28, 2013 file photo, a United Nations peacekeeper stands guard at the entrance to a polling station covered in separatist flags and graffiti supporting the creation of the independent state of Azawad, in Kidal, Mali. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
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BAMAKO: At least two UN troops were killed on Saturday in a suicide attack in Mali's northeaster rebel bastion of Kidal, which came a day before the country holds a second round of legislative polls, a UN source said.

The soldiers were part of the UN peacekeeping force known as MINUSMA and died when a suicide bomber ploughed his explosive-laden car into a bank that they were guarding.

"For the moment, we have at least two dead and several wounded among the MINUSMA African troops," the source said on condition of anonymity.

The suicide bomber also died, a regional government source told AFP earlier.

Mali is battling to restore stability after Al-Qaeda-linked radicals seized control of its northern half, submitting it to a brutal form of Islamic law for nine months before a French-led military operation launched in January ousted the extremists.

Saturday's attack came a day before Mali was to hold a second round of legislative elections on Sunday, the fourth time that the former French colony in west Africa has gone to the polls in less than six months.

The vote is the final stage in Mali's return to democracy after a March 2012 coup that threw it into turmoil and opened a power vacuum that enabled Islamists to seize the north.

Kidal in Mali's northeast is a stronghold of the Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA).

Capital of the harsh Saharan region of the same name and the cradle of the nomadic Tuareg, the town has slipped from the regimented control of separatist rebels into a state of lawless anarchy which allowed the recent murders of two French journalists by Islamists.

 
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