BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Officials say a suicide bomber has attempted to force his way past the defenses of the city of Timbuktu, detonating himself on its outskirts, while a landmine exploded under army vehicle in another part of northern Mali, killing a total of three.
The twin attacks on Saturday come as French President Francois Hollande (frahn-SWAH' oh-LAWND') told French television that French forces had attained their objectives in Mali, a country which until January had lost its northern half to an al-Qaida cell and their allies.
After the extremists began a southward push, Hollande unilaterally authorized a military intervention, quickly liberating the main cities in the north. Outside the heavily fortified cities like Timbuktu, however, the jihadists are still present.
A military official based in Timbuktu says the suicide bomber was fired upon at a checkpoint and blew himself up and injuring at least one soldier.
For 10 months until this January, Timbuktu as well as much of the rest of northern Mali was ruled by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as two other jihadist groups allied with the terror network.