BAMAKO, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Suicide bomb attacks caused casualties in northern Mali on Thursday and Friday, the latest in a series launched by rebels this month apparently in a counter- offensive to the Malian army and its allies, according to local sources.
The Malian military reported twin car bomb attacks near the northern town of Tessalit, killing at least five people including civilians and the suicide bombers.
The raid came one day after a suicide car bombing in another northern town of Kidal, killing a guard and the driver.
The suicide attacks were reported amid tensions in Cao, the biggest town in northern Mali, where more than a dozen rebels were killed in battles with Malian and French troops on Thursday over its control.
The Malian military said the rebels, who lost control of the town last month after occupying it for nine months, managed to enter the city on Wednesday.
The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) targeted the mayor's office, before repelled by the army.
Cao had previously witnessed two suicide attacks by rebels.
MUJAO, one of the Al-Qaida linked rebel groups, has vowed more explosions after claiming responsibility for Thursday's attack in Kidal.
The group, alongside Al-Qaida's branch in North Africa AQIM and Ansar Dine, was driven out of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in northern Malia after the government fought back in January with the backing of other African countries and France, its former colonial power.
The three rebel groups and the autonomy-seeking Tuareg MNLA occupied Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal in the aftermath of a military coup on March 22, 2012.
Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traore is seeking dialogue with the MNLA after failing to reach a deal with Ansar Dine.