A MORTAR and rocket attack on a United Nations base in northern Mali’s Kidal has killed at least three people.
The dead included two UN peacekeepers and a contractor.
The attack yesterday morning also injured 20 people, of which four are in a serious condition, according to Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the UN mission in Mali known as MINUSMA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
A witness said that bursts of gunfire were heard shortly after the rockets landed as well as mortar fire coming from inside the camp.
The two peacekeeper soldiers are understood to be from Guinea, although their identities are not known.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack in the country’s restless north but it is believed to be the work of Islamic extremists.
French troops pushed Islamic militants out of Mali’s northern cities and towns in 2013 although jihadists continue to carry out attacks on UN peacekeeping forces.
Mongi Hamdi, the head of the UN mission and the special representative for the secretary-general in Mali, said: “I want to reiterate that these attacks will not impede the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian people and the peace process.
“I express my solidarity and salute the brave men and women serving [the UN mission] throughout the country for their efforts to bringing lasting peace to Mali in these difficult conditions.”
Northern Mali has been unstable since it fell to Tuareg separatists and Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012.
Despite the presence of French troops and the UN force, the extremists have continued attacks in the north.
Extremists have also extended attacks farther south this year, including an assault on a Bamako restaurant/nightclub popular with foreigners in March and an attack on a luxury hotel in the capital earlier this month.
Malian authorities said they have arrested two men over the attack at the Radisson Blu hotel on November 20 where 20 people were killed. Armed men held 170 guests and staff hostage during the nine-hour siege, before Malian police stormed the building to free those trapped inside.
There are competing claims of responsibility by extremist groups for that attack.
The suspects’ identity and their alleged role in the attack at the Radisson Blu hotel is currently unknown.
The US embassy in the Malian capital, Bamako, has warned citizens of the potential of further terrorist activity in the city.
Residents have been advised to avoid crowded areas such as bars, restaurants and shopping centres in the wake of the attack.
Neighbouring countries are also fighting Islamic extremist with Boko Haram widening its reach from Nigeria to Niger, Cameroon and Chad.TT