Several peacekeepers in Mali have been killed by a bomb in the troubled northern town of Kidal, a spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping mission said.

Fred Fath told the AP news agency on Saturday: "There was an explosion this morning and the info I have is that there were several dead and wounded among the blue helmets."

News agencies reported that a car packed with explosives detonated in front of a bank guarded by the UN. The explosion was so great it blew open the doors of houses in the area, according to reports.

Kidal, located some 1600km northeast of Mali's capital, Bamako, is where an ethnic Tuareg rebellion began in late 2011.

UN peacekeepers began their mission in July after a phased withdrawal of French troops who were deployed in January to rein in armed groups who had seized large areas in the north and imposed Islamic law.

Source: Agencies