BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Three suicide bombers carrying explosives inside water bottles blew themselves up at a military checkpoint and a fourth was shot and killed Friday in the northern Malian city of Gossi, authorities said. A car-bomb attack in another town was averted.
The attacks killed only the bombers and wounded two Malian soldiers and they highlight the threat posed by al-Qaida-linked militants nearly four months after France launched an offensive to oust them from urban centers in this northwest African nation.
Four men entered the town of Gossi at around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, according to local official Sidi Ben Hamou. Three blew themselves up at a checkpoint, wounding two Malian soldiers.
"People thought it was water in the bottles but it was the explosives that were inside," Ben Hamou said.
The fourth bomber attempted to reach a Malian military camp in the town but was shot and killed by soldiers before he could do so, he added.
Meanwhile, another attacker tried to enter a military camp in the town of Menaka, authorities said.
"A car bomber tried to enter a military camp where there were soldiers from Niger in Menaka early this morning and was neutralized," said Lt. Col. Souleymane Maiga, a spokesman for the Malian military.
It was not clear how many jihadists were inside the vehicle, but there were no casualties among the Nigerien soldiers.
The radical Islamic fighters seized power across northern Mali over a year ago in the aftermath of a coup in the distant capital, Bamako. France launched a military operation in January to oust the jihadists from the major towns. They fled into the surrounding desert, only to stage a series of suicide bombings.
There have been at least four attacks in Gao, and two each in Kidal and Timbuktu.
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