BAMAKO (Reuters) - A mine explosion hit a government minister's convoy in northern Mali on Tuesday, killing two soldiers and injuring nine others, a colonel in the Malian army said.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible. Al Qaeda-linked Islamists continue to carry out attacks despite a French-led intervention last year to drive them out of the desert north.
"This morning on the road to Bourem, a vehicle which was part of the ministerial convoy was hit by an explosive device," said Colonel Souleymane Maiga, referring to a town in Gao region.
"It's a heavy toll, with two soldiers killed and nine injured, including four seriously."
Rural Development Minister Bocari Treta was unharmed.
A third and final round of peace negotiations began in Algiers last week between the Malian government and a grouping of mostly Tuareg rebels operating in the north
Officially, the rebels have split with their former Islamist allies but a French general in the military "Operation Barkhane" said last month he suspected ties remain.
In a further sign of growing violence, suspected Islamist fighters kidnapped 10 children on Saturday and killed two others who tried to escape in northern Mali.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Roche)