At least three soldiers from Chad have been killed by a suicide bomber in northern Mali. It comes days after France started withdrawing its troops from the country, three months after it began a military intervention.
The attack happened in the northern city of Kidal, with civilians believed to be among the injured. It is not clear how many suicide bombers struck - one humanitarian worker said that there appeared to be two.
"One succeeded in detonating his explosives belt, but the other was neutralized before he could explode his," said Lalla Maiga, speaking to the news agency AP. "There were three dead among the Chad soldiers and a lot of injured civilians, two of which are my colleagues."
A regional source said the center of Kidal was sealed off following what is believed to be an Islamist attack.
Chad's government has confirmed the deaths, and added that four of its soldiers were also injured. It said the bodies would be returned to Chad.
There were two suicide bombings in Kidal in February, after French troops entered Mali in January.
The intervention began when rebels threatened to advance on the capital, with French President Francois Hollande responding to Mali's plea for help by sending in air force jets and thousands of combat troops. The intervention has pushed the Islamist rebels out of the cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal - among others.
Soldiers from Chad and other African nations have joined the operation to help Mali's weak military fight the extremists.
French President Francois Hollande has said that France, which until this week had around 4,000 troops in the West African nation, hoped to reduce that figure to 2,000 by July and 1,000 by the end of this year.
- AFP, AP