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Explosion kills soldiers and civilian in Mali

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Malian army soldiers get ready ahead of the National Day military parade on September 22, 2018 in Bamako, Mali
Getty Images
Malian troops are supported by foreign forces in the campaign to defeat militant Islamists

Officials in Mali say seven soldiers and a civilian driver have been killed in a region badly affected by Islamist violence.

The men died when two of their vehicles hit improvised explosive devices in central Mali.

Much of the country is affected by jihadist violence and communal clashes.

On Thursday, France deployed 120 extra troops to Mali to fight the Islamists.

They landed by parachute in the north-eastern region of Menaka.

Six years ago much of northern Mali was seized by jihadists but they were pushed back by French forces.

Mali president sworn in for second term

Mali"s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks at his presidential inauguration ceremony in Bamako, Mali September 4, 201
Reuters

Mali's re-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita promised to restore peace during his inauguration ceremony on Tuesday in the capital Bamako.

“I chose to place the re-establishment of peace and security at an absolute level of priority", he said as he was sworn in for a second term, Reuters reports.

His main challenge will be to address the increasing levels of attacks and inter-communal violence in the north and centre of Mali, correspondents say.

Mr Keita won the election with 67% of the vote during a second round of voting on 12 August His main rival, former finance minister Soumailia Cisse, said there was vote rigging and disputed the outcome.

Top jihadist leader 'killed in Mali'

Mirage 2000
AFP
The French army said their operation involved two Mirage 2000 aircraft

A top jihadist leader from the Islamic State group’s West Africa affiliate has been killed in an airstrike in Mali, France’s military has said.

Commandos deployed to the ground after the airstrike confirmed the death of Mohamed Ag Almouner and one of his bodyguards, the army statement said.

It regretted that a woman and a teenager had also been killed in the strike that took place overnight on Sunday into Monday, it said.

Almouner belonged to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group, the army said.

Military spokesman Col Patrik Steiger told the AFP news agency that Almouner had been "a lieutenant to the ISGS chief".

According to AFP, ISGS is based on Mali's border with Burkina Faso and is also active in Niger.

It is led by Adnan Abu Walid Sahrawi, who was formerly a member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and also co-led Mujao, a Malian Islamist group, AFP said.

French troops are currently in Mali leading counter-terrorism operations.

France has encouraged five regional countries to contribute troops to the 5,000-strong G5 Sahel Joint Force to take on terror groups, drug smuggling and human trafficking across the Sahara.

Read more: Why the Sahara is terror's new front line

Mali court confirms presidential election result

Mali's incumbent president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita addresses his supporters during his last political rally in Bamako on August 10, 2018.
Getty Images
The opposition had disputed Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta's win

Mali's constitutional court has confirmed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta's re-election in a run-off ballot, rejecting his opponent's allegation that it was fraudulent.

According to official results, Mr Keita won the runoff on 12 August with 67.17% of the votes cast, against former minister Soumaïla Cissé who received 32.83% of the vote.

Mr Cissé, who took part in a rally protesting the results on Saturday, says that he would have won the election with 51.75% of the vote if not for ballot stuffing and other violations - an allegation Mr Keïta denies.

The court rejected Mr Cissé's appeal on Monday, saying his allegation was inadmissible and unsupported by evidence, AFP news agency reports.

Mr Keita will begin his second five-year term on 4 September.

'Diva of Timbuktu' dies aged 59

Khaira Arby performs on stage during day two of the Womad Festival 2011 at Charlton Park on July 30, 2011 near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, England.
Redferns/Getty Images

Malian singer and composer Khaira Arby, known as "the diva of Timbuktu", has died at a hospital in the capital Bamako. She was 59.

Arby is credited as one of the first women to break onto Mali's music scene in the 1970s, according to news site MaliWeb.

A native of the northern city of Timbuktu, she was notable for performing in multiple languages - Arabic, Bambara, Fula, Tamasheq, Songhay and French.

After insurgencies by Islamist and Tuareg separatist groups in 2012, northern Mali remains unstable but is under government control with the help of thousands of troops supplied by regional neighbours and France.

Locals were thrilled when Arby performed at the Timbuktu Renaissance festival earlier this year. Singing had previously been banned under the Islamists.

Watch Arby sing one of her best-loved songs, Sourgou, at a live performance a few years earlier:

View more on youtube

Mali's president wins second term

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita casts his vote at a polling station in Bamako on August 12, 2018 during the second round of Mali's presidential election
Getty Images
The president faces the challenge of ending instability and uniting the nation

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has won Sunday's heavily disputed run-off election with 67.17% of the vote, official results show.

Opposition candidate Soumaila Cisse, who won 32.83% of the vote, said on Monday that he would reject the result as he believed the vote was marred by fraud.

"I call on all Malians to rise up... We will not accept the dictatorship of fraud," he said.

The internet could not be accessed via mobile phone networks in the capital, Bamako, ahead of the announcement of official results, AFP news agency reports.

Mali opposition 'won't accept fiddled results'

BBC World Service

Supporters of Soumaïla Cissé
Retuers

The Malian opposition leader, Soumaïla Cissé, says he will reject the forthcoming results of Sunday's presidential run-off against incumbent President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

Speaking yesterday in the capital, Bamako, he said there had been fraud during the poll and called on Malians to rise up:

We will no longer accept results that have been fiddled with, we will no longer accept lies, we will no longer accept tampering, we will no longer accept buying of conscience, we say no to the dictatorship of fraud, Mali will not be built on fraud, we will not accept that a Malian president be elected by fraud."

Election observers from the AU however say voting has been carried out "in acceptable conditions" with "no tangible element" of irregularities, AFP news agency reports. While the EU has yet to present its preliminary findings, AFP quotes observers as saying no "major incidents" have occurred in any of the 300 polling stations they visited.

It is the second time that former finance minister Mr Cissé, 68, is facing incumbent President Keïta, 73, in a presidential run-off vote.

Security has been a key concern because jihadists, Tuareg separatists and ethnic clashes have left the country chronically insecure. Despite taking extra precautions, Sunday's vote saw one poll worker killed and hundreds of stations closed due to insecurity.

Low turnout in Mali run-off

Opposition protests
AFP
Demonstrators hold up placards during a protest against incumbent and front runner President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on the eve of the second round elections

Votes are being counted in the presidential election run-off in Mali. Turnout in the poll is reported to have been low despite a massive security operation.

One local observer group said less than a quarter of the electorate may have voted.

International observers highlighted some irregularities but said that in general they had been satisfied with proceedings.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who's expected to win a second term, has dismissed opposition allegations of stuffed ballot boxes.

Results are expected within five days.