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Reconstruction of Timbuktu mausoleums begins

Masons in Timbuktu on Friday began rebuilding precious mausoleums that were destroyed by Islamist guerillas when they controlled the Malian city before a French intervention, the UN cultural body said. Al-Qaeda-linked militants destroyed 15 of the northern city's mausoleums, important buildings that date back to the golden age of Timbuktu as an economic, intellectual and spiritual centre in the 15th and 16th centuries, UNESCO reported in June last year.

Suicide bomber targets French army in Mali: military sources

A suicide bomber killed himself but caused no other casualties overnight Saturday in a botched attack against a French army position in northern Mali, Malian and French military officials said. "The suicide bomber targeted a French army position in the town of Menaka," a senior Malian army official told AFP by telephone from northern Mali. "The French troops detected his presence and in the rush, the man set off his (explosive) belt, killing himself but causing no other casualties," he said.

EU observers and U.N. mission praise Mali legislative vote

BAMAKO (Reuters) - European Union observers and the United Nation's mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on Monday praised the West African nation's weekend legislative election, despite low turnout and some voting abuses. Sunday's vote was largely peaceful except for a few incidents in the north that were unlikely to affect the outcome, EU election observation chief Louis Michel said in a statement.

Armed men seize urns from Malian polling stations: officials

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Armed men burst into voting stations in the region of Timbuktu in northern Mali and carried off ballot boxes, preventing voters from casting their ballots in Sunday's legislative elections, officials said. "There was no voting in several communes of Goundam," said Oumou Sall Seck, mayor of the town and a member of the opposition URD party. He said well-organised armed men travelling in several vehicles had burst into some voting stations and carried off the urns, while in others materials simply went missing.

Armed men, politician steal ballot boxes in north Mali

Ballot boxes were stolen in north Mali's Timbuktu region on Sunday, including one by armed men and several by a politician, officials told AFP, in the first sign of disruption in parliamentary polls. "Gunmen took a ballot box in the town of Bajakary, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Goundam. I've sent people there to establish the facts," said Oumou Sall Seck, the mayor of the district capital of Goundam. "In Takoubao, another town about 15 km from Goundam, voter cards were confiscated," she added, without being able to give details.

French troops kill deputy to feared Islamist Belmokhtar

By Adama Diarra BAMAKO (Reuters) - French special forces have killed the second-in-command of the feared Islamist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar in an operation in the region of Tessalit in northern Mali, security sources said on Thursday. Hacene Ould Khalill, a Mauritanian known by his nickname Jouleibib, was the deputy commander of Belmokhtar's 'Those who sign in blood' brigade, formed when the veteran Algerian jihadi split with al Qaeda's North African wing.

Islamists shell troop-heavy area around Mali's Gao airport

Islamists fired shells on Wednesday towards airport in Gao, Mali's second-largest city, but did not cause any casualties, a source from the Malian army headquarters said. "The Islamists fired shells towards the airport in Gao" where French and Malian soldiers are stationed, the source said. There were no victims and the situation had been brought under control, the source added, as French army helicopters were dispatched to chase the militants.

Death toll rises to 39 in Mali river boat disaster

The death toll from one of the worst ever river boat sinkings in Mali has jumped to 39, including many young children, local officials and state media said Sunday. Rescuers were still hunting along the Niger river for the missing after the tragedy struck overnight Friday in central Mali, while survivors hailed local villagers for preventing an even heavier death toll. "Until now, 32 bodies have been recovered but there are still people in the water we are searching for," said Ibrahim Waigalo, a councillor in the village of Koubi near the site of the accident.

Death toll rises to 32 in Mali river boat disaster

The death toll from one of the worst ever river boat sinkings in Mali has jumped to 32, including many young children, local officials and survivors said Sunday. Rescuers were still hunting along the Niger river for the missing after the tragedy struck overnight Friday in central Mali, while survivors hailed local villagers for preventing an even heavier death toll. "Until now, 32 bodies have been recovered but there are still people in the water we are searching for," said Ibrahim Waigalo, an advisor in the village of Koubi near the site of the accident.

Mali boat accident leaves 20 dead, 23 missing

Twenty people died when a boat on the Niger river broke up overnight near the central Malian city of Mopti, a rescue services official said Saturday, adding that another 23 people were missing. "We don't know yet why the boat broke up," Commander Dramane Diallo told AFP, adding: "Investigations are under way. The boat broke at the stern" in a branch of the river near the village of Koubi, with 210 survivors. sd/cs/gd/jmm
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