Suicide bomber hits north Mali, troops clash in capital
A suicide bomber blew himself up in northern Mali on Friday as a dramatic turn towards guerrilla tactics by Islamists and an outbreak of fighting among soldiers in the capital show the war is far from won for the embattled nation.
In Mali's first ever suicide bombing, an attacker drove up to a group of Malian troops in Gao, the largest town in the north, and detonated an explosive belt, wounding one soldier, said First Sergeant Mamadou Keita.
The Islamists who occupied northern Mali for 10 months have resorted to guerrilla warfare after being ousted by French-led troops who on Friday took control of the strategic town of Tessalit near the Algerian border.
Many of the rebels are now believed to be holed up in the remote hills of the far northeast.
In the capital Bamako infighting in Mali's deeply divided military erupted as soldiers attacked a camp of elite paratroopers loyal to ex-president Amadou Toumani Toure, who was ousted in a March coup.
The putsch was launched by soldiers from Mali's poor and ramshackle army after their humiliation in the north at the hands of well-armed rebels fighting for independence for the Tuareg, a northern people who have long complained of being marginalised by Bamako.
A month later, "Red Beret" paratroopers loyal to Toure launched a failed counter-coup. Fighting between feuding factions left about 20 people dead.
Friday's gunfight broke out after the paratroopers refused to be absorbed into other units and go to the northern frontline.
"From 6:00 am (0600 GMT) heavily armed soldiers, from all units, attacked the camp," said Yaya Bouare, one of the "Red Beret" soldiers inside the camp, adding that there were many wounded.
Posted by: tipper 2013-02-08