Four Malian soldiers were killed on Saturday when their vehicle drove over a landmine in the central Mopti region, the local governor said, in the troubled desert region.
Governor Sidi Alassane Toure said the Malian army vehicle drove over the landmine near the border of the Koro region, killing four members of the national guard and wounding two others.
He added that ahead of Mali’s presidential election on July, the army is “increasing patrols in this area, where there are tensions due to intercommunal conflicts”.
In the Koro region, about 120km northeast of Mopti, several residents have said that “terrorists have started to plant landmines everywhere”.
“Two weeks ago during the end of school year exams, a tricycle transporting children hit a mine – we lost three children,” said local Adama Togo.
The latest landmine deaths came a day after two soldiers and a civilian were killed in a suicide attack on the Malian headquarters of the G5 Sahel international anti-terror task force in the Mopti town of Sevare.
Mali’s unrest stems from a 2012 ethnic Tuareg separatist uprising which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key cities in the north.
The extremists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
But large stretches of the country remain out of the control of Malian, French and UN forces, which are frequent targets of attacks, despite a peace accord signed with Tuareg leaders in mid-2015 aimed at isolating the jihadists.
The violence has also spilled over into both Burkina Faso and Niger.