Mali: More than a dozen killed after explosion hits passenger bus

At least 24 others wounded after vehicle carrying 60 passengers is hit by a landmine in Mopti, security minister says.

    At least 14 people have been killed when an explosion hit a bus carrying passengers in Mali's Mopti region, according to the security minister.

    Salif Traore said 24 people were also wounded in Tuesday's blast, with seven being "in a critical state".

    He did not provide further details.

    Bus operator Sonef said the vehicle was travelling from the central town of Douentza to the northern town of Gao, carrying 60 passengers.

    A person at the scene told Reuters news agency that his sister and nephew were killed in the explosion, which is believed to have been caused by a landmine.

    "The army is trying to recover bodies from under the bus," he said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity.

    A Malian military unit, which had coincidentally been on the same road, was able to assist the passengers, a police source told AFP news agency. Sonef said it had sent a second bus to pick them up.

    The United Nations stabilisation force in Mali, MINUSMA, condemned the attack - which it said had caused "many deaths and 30 injuries" - adding that some of the wounded had been evacuated by helicopter.

    MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado said on Twitter that two women and two children were among the wounded.

    Northern Mali fell into the hands of armed groups in 2012 before they were forced out by a French-led military intervention.

    Much of the region remains chronically unstable and, since 2015, violence has spread to the centre of the country.

    Armed groups have carried out dozens of hit-and-run raids and mine attacks, striking troops as well as civilians.

    In January 2018, 24 Malian and Burkinabe citizens, including children, were killed in a blast in central Mali as they headed to a weekly fair.

    The fighters have also inflamed tensions between rival communities, particularly nomadic Fulani herders and sedentary farmers. Hundreds of lives have been lost in tit-for-tat assaults.

    SOURCE: News agencies