A terrorist group in Mali affiliated with al-Qaeda said a landmine it planted that exploded under a passenger bus and killed 14 civilians was targeting French troops, reported Reuters.
The explosion took place on September 3rd when a passenger bus carrying 60 people hit the landmine, which was planted on a road located in central Mali. The region has turned into a haven for extremist militants who withstood a five-year French military campaign.
Jama’a Nusratul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) said it did not plan to target the bus and offered its condolences and sympathy to the relatives of victims.
"With deep sadness and grief, we received news about the killing of a group of our brothers and children," it said via its media arm, according to US-based SITE, which monitors jihadist websites.
"This came as the result of the detonation of a landmine the extremists had planted for patrols of the French occupation," it said in the statement.
The explosion killed 14 and wounded 24.
Armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and Isis have increased in the sparsely populated Sahel in recent years. The groups use central and northern Mali as a launch pad for attacks across the region.