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Suicide bomber dies in failed attack on peacekeepers

A suicide bomber was killed during an attempted attack on Swedish peacekeepers serving with the UN’s Mali mission in the central city of Timbuktu, Swedish and UN sources told AFP Tuesday.

The UN’s MINUSMA mission was deployed to Mali in July 2013, with around 12,000 international police and military personnel attempting to secure lawless swathes of the vast Sahel nation.

“On Monday evening a Swedish patrol on assignment in Timbuktu city was attacked by a suicide bomber,” a Swedish armed forces statement said.

“The soldiers were on a routine mission and were approached by an unidentified man who shortly thereafter detonated an explosive he was wearing on his body. The perpetrator died in connection with the attack,” it added.

The interim head of the Swedish force in Timbuktu, Major Kristian Sandahl, confirmed no Swedes were injured during the incident.

Conflicting reports issued earlier Tuesday suggested that Swedish forces had neutralised the attacker.

“A suicide attacker attempting to commit a terrorist act was neutralised,” a source within the MINUSMA mission told AFP, requesting anonymity as the UN has yet to formally comment on the incident.

There are 209 Swedish military personnel and nine police serving with the Mali mission, according to the most recent UN figures from August.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda in early 2012 — briefly backed by Tuareg-led rebels — throwing the country into chaos.

An ongoing international military intervention that began in January 2013 has driven Islamist fighters away from the major urban centres they had briefly controlled, but large tracts of Mali are still not controlled by domestic or foreign troops.

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