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Explosion rocks north Mali town of Kidal

- Associated Press - Sunday, September 29, 2013

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — An explosion went off Sunday afternoon in Kidal near a storage facility for the U.N. World Food Program, the latest violence to hit northern Mali in recent days.

It was not immediately clear whether there were casualties following the blast, said Daouda Maiga, a Kidal official. The force of the explosion blew apart the roof and walls of the building where aid supplies were being stored.

French forces along with members of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in northern Mali arrived at the scene of the explosion and set up a security perimeter around it.

"We don't know too much about what has happened, but we don't think anyone was there at the time of the explosion," said Mazou Toure, a spokesman for the Tuareg rebel group, which remains largely in control of Kidal.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, the name the Tuaregs call their homeland, recently withdrew from a peace accord they had signed with the government. The agreement had allowed for the Malian military to return to the town, where their presence remains highly controversial.

The deal also allowed for the July presidential election to proceed, the first since a March 2012 coup accelerated the chaos in the long democratic West African nation. In the aftermath, the secular Tuareg rebels and radical al-Qaeda-linked jihadists both took control in northern Mali. The Tuareg rebels later retreated until a French-led military intervention ousted the jihadists from the country's northern provincial capitals.

On Saturday, two people were killed and seven others wounded in Timbuktu after suicide bombers blew up their vehicle near a military camp. In a separate attack on Friday in Kidal, a grenade was thrown at a bank, wounding two security officers, said Kidal zone Cmdr. Mamary Camara.

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