DAKAR, Senegal _ – (AP) — A bomb explosion killed several members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali in the troubled northern city of Kidal, a spokesman for the mission said Saturday.
"There was an explosion this morning and the info I have is that there were several dead and wounded among the blue helmets," Fred Fath, the mission spokesman, told The Associated Press.
An intelligence official in northern Mali said that the dead included two Senegalese peacekeepers. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The car packed with explosives detonated in front of a bank guarded by the peacekeepers, he said. The explosion was so great it blew open the doors of houses in the area.
Abdallah Ag Ibrahim, a resident of Kidal, said the bank crumbled, a U.N. armored personnel car caught fire, and a nearby school was in flames. He said he saw four people who were either dead or injured.
Kidal, located some 1600 kilometers (1000 miles) northeast of Mali's capital, is where an ethnic Tuareg rebellion began in late 2011.
The French military deployed to Mali in January succeeded in chasing the rebels from almost all the areas they controlled, except Kidal which remains the nucleus of the conflict.
AP writer Rukmini Callimachi contributed to this report.