Africa

Rocket attack hits Kidal UN base in northern Mali

Ansar Dine militants at Kidal airport, northern Mali, 2012 photo Image copyright AFP
Image caption Islamist rebels have been active for years in northern Mali, despite foreign interventions

A rocket attack on a United Nations base in northern Mali has killed three people and wounded at least 12 others.

A peacekeeper died when about 30 rockets struck the base in the desert town of Kidal, said the UN mission.

Some rockets missed their target, killing two civilians. It is not clear who carried out the attack. Islamist militants are active in the area.

Meanwhile an al-Qaeda-linked group said it carried out an attack in the capital which killed five people on Saturday.

Al-Murabitoun, an Islamist group led by Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, said the attack on a bar in Bamako was a "revenge operation" against the "infidel West".

A gunman opened fire at La Terrasse bar, killing a French national, a Belgian security official working for the EU and three Malians.

Image caption The attack on La Terrasse came as a surprise as Bamako, in the south, has been free of terror attacks

Tuareg camp hit

The United Nations mission, Minusma, took over security duties from France in 2013. It regularly comes under attack from militants.

On Sunday Minusma said the rocket attack on its base in Kidal occurred at about 06:00 GMT. Peacekeepers returned fire.

At least one shell fell on a nearby camp for Tuareg and Arab nomads, killing two people and injuring several children, a witness said.

Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants and Tuareg rebels have been fighting the army in northern Mali for a number of years.

France, the former colonial power in Mali, intervened two years ago to stop their advance south of Bamako.


Militancy in Mali:

  • October 2011: Ethnic Tuaregs launch rebellion after returning with arms from Libya
  • March 2012: Army coup over government's handling of rebellion
  • April 2012: Tuareg and al-Qaeda-linked fighters seize control of north
  • June 2012: Islamist groups capture Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao from Tuaregs, start to destroy Muslim shrines and manuscripts and impose Sharia
  • January 2013: Islamist fighters capture a central town, raising fears they could reach Bamako. Mali requests French help
  • July 2013: UN force, now totalling about 9,750, takes over responsibility for securing the north after Islamists routed from towns
  • July 2014: France launches an operation in the Sahel to stem emergence of jihadist groups
  • Sporadic attacks continue in desert area of northern Mali, blamed on Tuareg and Islamist groups

Peace talks with Tuareg rebels ended inconclusively in Algiers last week.

Northern Mali has been a flashpoint of conflict since Mali's independence from French rule in 1960, with Tuareg rebels campaigning for independence or more autonomy.

The conflict has become more complex with the emergence of jihadi groups, which roam freely across parts of the Sahara desert.

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