Locals: Mali Suicide Bomber Tied to Terror Leader
From Associated Press via ABC News
A young militant who locals say had ties with terror leader Moktar Belmoktar blew himself up Friday near a military checkpoint on the outskirts of Gao, fueling fears of a looming insurgency by the jihadists who fled into the nearby desert just two weeks ago.
The suicide attack, the first of its kind since the French-led mission began in January, highlights the challenges that remain despite the retaking of northern Mali's largest town by French and Malian forces nearly two weeks ago.
They faced little resistance in initially recapturing Gao, though the discovery of industrial-strength explosives and Friday's bombing suggest the Islamic radicals are far from defeated.
Residents of Gao on Friday described the suicide bomber, who killed only himself, as an 18-year-old Arab man who spoke French well and had lived in the town for about seven months in a house known as a jihadist hideout. They said he was known by the name Al Farouk.
The suicide bomber ignited his explosives belt just after 6 a.m. near a military checkpoint, according to Malian military spokesman Modibo Traore. Hours later, the charred and mangled remains of the bomber's motorcycle lay strewn in a field not far from the checkpoint. Blood stained the wall on a building where three soldiers stood guard.
Malian soldiers said that nearby villagers had taken the bomber's remains away and buried them following the attack.
Posted on 02/08/2013 4:26 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax