Suicide Bombing In Mali Leaves One Dead; Soldiers, Rebels Exchange Heavy Gunfire In Bamako
By Amrutha Gayathri | February 8, 2013 10:33 PM EST
A suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up at a Malian government military checkpost in the northern city of Gao Friday, the first reported case of suicide bombing ever since the French-led military cracked down on insurgents in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal.
The suicide bomber "approached us on a motorbike, he was a Tamashek (Tuareg insurgent), and as he came closer he set off his belt," First Sergeant Mamadou Keita told AFP. "He died immediately and among us, one was injured."
Meanwhile, there were reports of heavy firefighting between government forces and mutinous paratroopers in Malian capital Bamako.
Government forces sealed off the area around the paratroopers' base, as reinforcements arrived to quell the mutiny erupted over disciplinary measures against some of the unit's members, Reuters reported.
Some of the elite Red Beret paratroopers had been staging protests demanding that commanders send them to the front to join the offensive against the insurgency.
The suicide bombing occurred amid concerns that the insurgents who were forced out of the region’s main towns may resort to guerilla warfare to strike back.
On Thursday, there were unconfirmed reports that four Malian soldiers were killed in a landmine blast near Gao, with a militant group claiming responsibility for the attack.
Last week, in response to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to send 330 troops to Mali to offer support to the French-led offensive on the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists; lawmakers and military experts in the UK warned that the country could be “bogged down” on a Vietnam-style war in Mali for years.
Cameron said the UK’s role in France will be limited to logistical, intelligence and surveillance assistance to France, while ruling out a combat role for British troops.
The former head of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, had earlier warned that nations involved may face “protracted guerrilla warfare.”
“It doesn't really surprise me that the British Government feels it needs to be seen to be helping,” he told the BBC.
“We cannot let states fail because we know from recent history that failed states just lead to really difficult circumstances, instability. What Mali and France, and indeed other countries who may choose to assist may face, of course, is a protracted guerrilla warfare taking place away from the conurbations,” he said.
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