Six civilians, including a pregnant woman, were killed in southern Mali when the ambulance they were travelling in struck a landmine, the health ministry said on Saturday.
It was not clear who was responsible for laying the mine, but the incident on Friday represented a first for the southern Sikasso region, said Mama Coumare, the ministry’s secretary-general.
Militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State routinely attack soldiers and civilians in northern and central Mali, but the country’s south has been largely spared.
“The ambulance had left Yorosso to bring a pregnant woman to Boura,” Coumare told us. “All the passengers were killed – six deaths, mostly women.”
Military officers overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita last month, decrying, among other things, his failure to address worsening insecurity caused by the jihadist terrorists and ethnic militias.
The violence has destabilised neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger too despite the presence of thousands of French troops and United Nations peacekeepers in the semi-arid Sahel region.
Eight civilians from the Dogon ethnic group were killed on Wednesday by suspected jihadist terrorists in central Mali’s Mopti region, local officials said.
The attack followed a lull of several weeks in tit-for-tat killings between rival ethnic groups in central Mali that coincided with peace talks brokered by al Qaeda-linked militants.
Negotiations about a transition back to civilian rule after the Aug. 18 coup were due to wrap up on Saturday following consideration of a proposal calling for the ruling junta to appoint an interim president to govern for the next two years.