The booby-trapped corpse of a man kidnapped by jihadists last week has exploded in Mali, killing 17 people.
Authorities had discovered a body abandoned in bushes in Gondogourou, a rural area close to the town of Koro on the country’s border with Burkina Faso on Tuesday.
Relatives are understood to have been burying the remains later that day when the corpse, which had been rigged with an improvised device, exploded.
A total of 17 people are thought to have been killed in the blast – around half of those in attendance at the funeral – while several others were injured.
“They dug the grave. It was at the moment of sliding the body in that the it exploded,” Oumar Guindo a Gondogourou resident told Malian newspaper the North South Journal.
“At the time, 17 people died and three others wounded.”
Local reports said the remains had been that of Boukary Guindo, a 40-year-old man abducted by an extremist group last week.
“He’s a young man who went to get some grass in the forest,” Youssouf Aya, a national assembly representative for Koro, also told North South, “He was shot dead by unidentified gunmen.”
The United Nations has already warned this year of escalating violence in central Mali, fuelled by decades-old disputes over land and cattle and exacerbated by the activities of armed extremist groups.
On New Year’s Day, at least 37 civilians were killed in an attack on a village near Bankass, around 30 miles from Koro.
Violence involving self-defence militias and armed groups has been taking place in Mali since 2012, when extremists seized control of the north of the country.
French forces, at the request of the Malian government, have intervened in the conflict and have forced insurgents back, although jihadists groups have maintained a foothold in northern and central regions.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies