Mali: At least three dead after militants attack UN base in Kidal with guns and rockets

An unidentified group launched the attack in the early hours of this morning

At least three people have reportedly been killed in an attack at a United Nations base in Mali as efforts continue to stabilise the country against an Islamist insurgency. 

The Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) said militants targeted its peacekeeping forces with guns and rockets in the northern Kidal region in the early hours of this morning.

“The attack happened at around 4am,” spokesperson Olivier Salgado said.

Mali terror attack

“Four or five rockets landed inside the base. Quite a few people were wounded but it's too early for a precise number.”

A UN peacekeeper was among at least three people killed in a similar attack in March this year, when rockets and shells rained down on the desert base.

Kidal has been the site of frequent fighting between rebels despite several attempts at ceasefires signed with the country’s government.

It is in northern Mali, which was occupied by Islamist fighters including groups linked to al-Qaeda in 2012.

They were driven out by a French-led military operation but violence has continued, including the hotel attack on 20 November where jihadist militants killed 22 people.

Three Islamist groups – al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), its splinter group al Mourabitoun and Massina Liberation Front (MLF) - claimed the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel and security analysts say they could be collaborating.

On Tuesday, a civilian member of the UN mission was killed by a bomb attack on a Minusma convoy in Timbuktu.

A spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General, reinstated his commitment to the country and said the attacks would “not alter the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian people and the peace process”.

Set up in 2013 to stabilise the country and implement a democratic transition following the 2012 army coup and separatist and Islamist rebellion, the Minusma currently deploys more than 9,000 military personnel, some 1,200 police and an equal number of civilians.

Neighbouring countries are also battling extremist insurgencies, with the Isis-affiliated Boko Haram extending its bloody campaign from Nigeria to Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

Additional reporting by Reuters