Mali suicide attack kills dozens of fighters
A suicide bombing targeting militia groups committed to restoring peace in Mali left nearly 50 people dead on Wednesday and struck a fresh blow at long-running efforts to stabilise the troubled north.
The car bomb attack in Gao, the region's biggest city, targeted a camp grouping former rebels and pro-government militia who are signatories to a 2015 peace accord struck with the government.
The attack occurred as former rebels from the Tuareg-led CMA movement prepared to go on a joint patrol with pro-government militia members, under the terms of the peace deal.
Mali's north fell under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda in 2012.
Although they were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013, implementation of the peace accord has been piecemeal with insurgents still active across large parts of the region.
The joint patrols, which also include regular Malian army troops, are supposed to help prepare for the reorganisation of the army.
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita ordered three days of national mourning following the attack, the worst in the country in recent years.
Defence Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga was to fly to Gao later on Wednesday.
The powerful blast, which went off during a training session, ripped apart bodies, scattering limbs across the camp, a witness said.
The vehicle used in the blast bore the logo of the unit coordinating the joint patrols, army spokesman Diarran Kone told AFP.