Two soldiers killed by landmine in Mali desert

Bamako - Two soldiers in a convoy providing security to a government minister were killed on Tuesday when they drove over a landmine in northern Mali, a defence ministry official told AFP.

Rural Development Minister Bocary Tereta was unhurt in the attack, and it was not clear whether he was the intended target as the area, a hotbed of militant activity on the edge of the Sahara desert, is heavily mined.

One of the cars in the minister's convoy hit the mine as they left the largest northern city of Gao on Tuesday to go to Bourem, the official said.

"At least two Malian soldiers were killed, five others were seriously wounded."

Bourem, a small desert town on the left bank of the River Niger to the north of Gao, was the scene of a botched suicide attack on Friday in which the bomber accidentally detonated his explosives, killing only himself.

Northern Mali fell under the control of Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups for most of 2012 before they were ousted by a French-led military offensive.

The operation smashed their infrastructure but disparate separatist and Islamist rebel groups continue to carry out sporadic attacks against Malian and foreign troops across the northern desert.

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