The AP reported this morning that an explosion rocked a UN World Food Programme storage facility in the town of Kidal in northern Mali. Two civilians died in the attacks and seven others were wounded by shrapnel.
The targeted building was blown apart, and Daouda Maiga, an official from Kidal, said that aid supplies were being stored in the building. French forces and UN peacekeepers stationed in northern Mali responded immediately and set up a defensive perimeter.
The explosion comes in the wake of the Tuareg rebel group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, withdrawing from a peace accord they signed with the Malian government. That agreement initially permitted government military forces to return to Kidal, but many of the native Tuaregs remain staunchly opposed to the government efforts.
A second AP story, this one written out of Bamako, indicated several houses in Kidal collapsed as a result of the bomb.
The president of the regional assembly around Kidal, Mohamid Ibrahim Cisse, said “In the town, the explosion caused several houses to collapse, which resulted in at least three civilians coming to the emergency room at Timbuktu’s hospital.”
One witness who described the attacks, Timbuktu native Abdoulaye Cisse, said that “The force of the explosion was so strong that the wall and the gate of the camp were razed, and another house fell in the city because of the earthquake caused by the explosion.”
The UN peacekeepers, meanwhile, remain undeterred. The UN’s head of the Malian peacekeeping mission, Bert Koenders, said that they will “continue to support the Malian people and their authorities so that peace and stability are restored across the entire region.”
Unfortunately for peacekeepers, the town of Kidal has been turned into a Tuareg state of sorts. Today’s car bombing represents the second attack since the Tuareg rebels pulled out of peace accords, with the first being a grenade that was launched into a Kidal bank from a neighboring house on Friday. In that attack, two security guards were wounded, but investigators made a quick arrest of one individual who remained in the house that the grenade came from.
If you’re interested in a concise history of the Mali-Tuareg conflict, which has a rich ethnic background similar to that of Czechoslovakia, you may find this YouTube video enlightening.