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Malian soldiers  man a bridge at  the entrance of Gao, northern Mali, Friday Feb. 8, 2013, where a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed himself attempting to blow up an army checkpoint. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Malian soldiers man a bridge at the entrance of Gao, northern Mali, Friday Feb. 8, 2013, where a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed himself attempting to blow up an army checkpoint. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)  

Mali: Suicide bombing adds to fears of instability

A suicide bomber detonated amongst a group of soldiers at a checkpoint in Northern Mali on Friday, BBC News reports. The checkpoint was situated on the outskirts of Gao, the largest city in Northern Mali.

This is the first known suicide bombing in the country’s history. A Malian officer told AFP that the suicide bomber approached the soldiers on a motorbike and set off an explosive belt, injuring one soldier.

French-led troops have driven Islamist militants from the main towns in Northern Mali.  Rival army factions continue to fight in the capital, Bamako.

A BBC reporter heard shots fired in the city. According to Reuters news agency armed soldiers attacked a camp of “Red Beret” paratroopers, resulting in many injuries. The paratroopers mutinied after they became enraged by attempts to divide their forces before sending them to fight the Islamists. During the reign of President Amadou Toumani Toure who was ousted in March 2012, the “Red Beret” paratroopers served as the elite presidential guard.

The coup that ousted President Toure presented militant groups with the opportunity to take over the northern part of the country, an area which is larger than France.

After Islamist militants, associated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), settled in Northern Mali, France sent 4,000 troops to oust them. French troops, alongside 1,000 Chadian troops, are heading into mountains near the Algerian border chasing militants who reportedly fled there.

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