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At least 8 killed in central Mali as bus hits landmine

At least eight people were killed in Mali when a makeshift bomb exploded under a passenger bus travelling in the violence-plagued central region of Mopti, the bus company said on Tuesday.

BAMAKO, Sept 3 (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed in Mali when a makeshift bomb exploded under a passenger bus travelling in the violence-plagued central region of Mopti, the bus company said on Tuesday.

The vehicle hit the landmine while carrying 60 passengers through the Douentza territory in Mopti, where ethnic militias regularly slaughter civilians from rival groups and Islamist militants are also active.

"The blast killed several people and injured some more. The provisional death toll, I repeat provisional, is of eight people killed," said Mohamed Diakite, director of SONEF, the company operating the bus.

The security ministry declined immediate comment on the attack or on who might be behind it.

The remote border region where Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger meet has become a haven for jihadist militants, who often launch deadly attacks on the U.N., Malian and international troops. Improvised explosive devices (IED) have been commonly used.

A person at the scene told Reuters his sister and nephew had been on board the vehicle and were killed in the explosion.

"The army is trying to recover bodies from under the bus," he said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Souleymane Ag Anara, writing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini, Editing by William Maclean)

((Anna.Pujol-Mazzini@thomsonreuters.com; +221 78 432 22 26;))

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