BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A passenger bus struck a roadside bomb in central Mali, killing at least six people and wounding many others, authorities said Friday.
The explosion took place Thursday in the village of Songo, 12 kilometers (7 miles) from Bandiagara, said local official Bachirou Tall.
“There were many people seriously injured who were taken to Sevare’s hospital, in Mopti region, and for the moment we don’t have information on their condition,” Tall told The Associated Press.
The attack has not been claimed but bears the hallmark of al-Qaida-linked extremist groups who are known for placing mines on roads to target Malian army vehicles and U.N. peacekeepers.
In December 2021, an attack by gunmen identifying themselves as jihadists on a public transportation bus killed at least 30 people, most of whom burned to death in the bus.
Bandiagara was once a tourist hub for Western travelers coming to hike through Mali’s Dogon country. However, the Islamic extremists who once were contained to the country’s north have infiltrated the central part of Mali, making the area unsafe for tourism.
In 2012 extremists held the main centers of northern Mali but French troops pushed the rebels out of the towns in 2013. But the jihadists continued to operate in Mali’s vast northern desert areas, attacking government targets.
Security concerns across the country have deepened since the French military withdrew its troops from Mali. France’s decision to move its forces to neighboring Niger came after relations sharply deteriorated with Mali’s junta leader Col. Assimi Goita, the man who seized power in an August 2020 coup.