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UN peacekeepers die in Mali blast

Several members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali have been killed in a bomb blast in the troubled northern city of Kidal, a spokesman for the mission said.

"There was an explosion this morning and the info I have is that there were several dead and wounded among the blue helmets," said Fred Fath.

An intelligence official in northern Mali said that the dead included two Senegalese peacekeepers.

The car packed with explosives detonated in front of a bank guarded by the peacekeepers, he said. The explosion was so great it blew open the doors of houses in the area.

Abdallah Ag Ibrahim, a resident of Kidal, said the bank crumbled, a UN armoured personnel car caught fire, and a nearby school was in flames. He said he saw four people who were either dead or injured.

Kidal, located some 1,000 miles north-east of Mali's capital, is where an ethnic Tuareg rebellion began in late 2011.

The French military, which deployed to Mali in January, succeeded in chasing the rebels from almost all the areas they controlled, except Kidal which remains the nucleus of the conflict.

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