2 UN peacekeepers killed in Mali ahead of Sunday polls

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Two UN peacekeepers were killed and several others injured in a suicide bomb attack in Mali's northern town of Kidal on Saturday, one day ahead of the second round of legislative elections in the West African country.

UN sources said two Senegalese soldiers of the MINUSMA mission were on guard of a bank when a car loaded with explosives slammed into the building. The explosion killed the soldiers and the driver.

Rebels including Al-Qaida's branch in North Africa have launched a series of attacks in northern Mali since driven out of major towns of northern Mali in January.

With the support of France, Mali's former colonial power, and MINUSMA, the West African country has restored control of its northern part although still grappling with a situation where rebels are capable of attacks.

On Tuesday, the French military said its soldiers killed 19 rebels in operations in Mali's northern region of Timbuktu.

The operations were part of the measures to boost control and security before Sunday's legislative elections, the second round after the first was held on Nov. 24.

Mali held a successful presidential vote in August to end a crisis unleashed by a military coup in March 2012. AQIM and other rebels swept through northern Mali in the aftermath of the coup before routed by French and African troops in January.

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