Dakar – Gunmen attacked a UN peacekeeping base in Mali’s northern city of Timbuktu on Monday, the peacekeeping mission said, adding that it had deployed a rapid response force with helicopters to the scene.
“An attack has been launched against one of our camps in Timbuktu (by) unknown men with machine guns,” Radhia Achouri, a spokeswoman for the UN peacekeeping mission, said by telephone.
“Sporadic gunfire was continuing, she said.
NAN reports that on June 1, several French soldiers were wounded, one of them seriously, when a military compound in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu came under attack by mortar fire.
The Timbuktu compound houses soldiers from the UN mission, the Malian army and France’s Operation Barkhane.
Several mortar shells were fired into the base but only one exploded near the French soliders, said Anthony Fouchard, FRANCE 24’s Mali correspondent. S
oldiers immediately deployed to pursue the assailants.
Security sources initially said that between five and seven troops were wounded. Swedish defense forces later told AP that four soldiers “from another nation” had been wounded.
The soldier who was seriously wounded is undergoing surgery at the scene while arrangements are being made for a medical evacuation.
France launched operations in Mali in January 2013 to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants who seized much of the north of the country the year before.
It has since deployed more than 4,500 soldiers across the Sahel region to hunt down Islamist militants.
The UN later deployed a peacekeeping force of more than 11,000 troops to the struggling West African state.(Reuters/NAN)