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Mali: Suicide bomber attacks Timbuktu

A suicide bomber has blown himself up in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu.

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A still from a video shows Islamist militants sitting on the ground with their weapons after destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu on July 1, 2012. Islamist rebels in northern Mali smashed four more tombs of ancient Muslim saints in Timbuktu on July 1. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

A suicide bomber has blown himself up in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu.

A Malian soldier was injured in the Saturday attack on an army barricade, Timbuktu's second in nine days.

"A jihadist suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt after trying unsuccessfully to force his way through the barricade at the west entrance to Timbuktu, which was guarded by Malian soldiers," an army officer told Agence France-Pressed by phone.

The attack occurred around 10 p.m. local time. The bomber was killed in the blast.

Timbuktu resident Age Djitteye said he heard a loud explosion and heavy gunfire starting at 10 p.m. He said the shooting had stopped by midnight.

Earlier on the same day, a land mine exploded, killing two Malian soldiers in the Gao region, east of Timbuktu.

More from GlobalPost: Mali: Timbuktu manuscripts not gone forever after all

No one has claimed responsibility for either attack.

Until this January, Timbuktu had been under a 10-month al Qaeda affiliate's rule. French forces liberated it on Jan. 28.

France is now preparing to withdraw its 4000 troops still in Mali. The first of four Malian battalions will begin training with European instructors on April 2 as part of an effort to improve the country's army as quickly as possible.

More from GlobalPost: Suicide bombing kills Mali soldier in Timbuktu

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/130331/mali-suicide-bomber-attacks-timbuktu