First suicide bombing reported in Mali

A suicide bomber has attacked a checkpoint in northern Mali, killing only himself, in the first known suicide bombing since French military forces intervened in the country.

And in the capital Bamako, far to the south, soldiers from a unit allied with the leader of last year’s military coup stormed the camp of the Red Beret presidential guard 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, well-armed Islamic extremists.

News of the attack came as it was learnt that French forces have capture the town of Tessali in north Mali from insurgents.

The suicide bombing happened in the city of Gao, which was occupied by the extremists until French-led military forces pushed them out.

The Malian military confirmed the attack. The bomber, who was wearing an explosive belt, was the only casualty.

Fears have been high of such attacks since the discovery of industrial-strength explosives earlier this week.

Malian soldiers gave up towns in northern Mali with hardly a fight last year to insurgents, and then a military coup in the capital, led by a captain, disrupted the command system.

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