GAO, Mali – A car-bomb explosion in northern Mali killed three civilians on Monday, and one group reportedly claimed that Canadian soldiers and other foreign forces were targeted.The Canadian Armed Forces said in an email Monday that it was aware of an explosion in the city of Gao, adding that all Canadian personnel were safe at Camp Castor.The Ministry of Security and Civil Protection of Mali says on its Facebook page that a trapped vehicle burst into flames in a courtyard in Gao.The ministry says three people were killed, two were injured and neighbouring homes were damaged.SITE, an American group that monitors jihadist websites, says an organization posing as al-Qaida’s branch in Mali has claimed “a suicide bomb blast on the headquarters of foreign forces, including British, Canadian and Germans, in Gao.”A Canadian peacekeeping contingent took over from Germans and Belgians in Mali in early July, and its main task is to evacuate the wounded peacekeepers by helicopter.The Canadian mission includes eight helicopters and 250 crew members and soldiers.Mali has been torn apart by conflict since a rebellion in the north and a coup in the capital in 2012. The turmoil has been aggravated in recent years by poverty, drought and the influx of Islamic extremists.Dozens of peacekeepers have died in attacks in Mali and dozens more have been wounded since the creation of the UN mission in 2013.
View a transcript of the live chat between Vancouver City Council candidates Larry Smith and Cory Barnes held on Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. on Columbian.com.Cory BarnesAge: 24.Background: Store manager, Sutinen Consulting Inc. Republican campaign volunteer; 2008 and 2010 GOP convention delegate, served as county representative on state GOP Platform Committee in 2008 and served on county GOP Platform Committee in 2010. Active member in local “We the People” and “Campaign for Liberty.”Funds Raised: $5,595.Major Endorsements: Rep. Paul Harris; David Madore, U.S. Digital CEO; Michael Delavar and Jon Russell, Washougal city councilors.Website: http://www.Cory4Council.com.Name: Larry Smith.Age: 69.Background: Retired. Vancouver city councilor since 2003 and mayor pro tem from 2010 to present. Former director of Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation; former Vancouver assistant city attorney; former real estate broker. Serves on C-Tran board; 40et8, Voiture 99 Military Society; statewide Association of Washington Cities Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Rotary International.Funds Raised: $18,644.Major Endorsements: Building Industry Association of Clark County; Clark County Realtors Association; Central Labor Roundtable; Sierra Club; SW Washington State Electricians PAC No. 48; county commissioners Marc Boldt and Steve Stuart, state Reps. Ann Rivers, Jim Moeller, Sharon Wylie and Tim Probst; state Sen. Craig Pridemore; and Mayor Tim Leavitt.Website: http://www.voteforlarrysmith.com.Cory Barnes said he’s here to put Vancouver City Councilor Larry Smith on trial.Barnes, a political newcomer, faces an uphill battle for Position 5 against Smith, who has been on the city council since 2003 and also serves as mayor pro tem.