April 22, 2018 / 3:55 PM / 3 months ago

Rockets shake Mali's Timbuktu, no casualties - French army

BAMAKO/PARIS (Reuters) - Homemade rockets shook the northern Mali city of Timbuktu on Sunday near U.N. and French military bases where Islamist militants launched a deadly suicide raid last weekend, France’s army said.

No one was hurt this time around as the two or three rockets exploded outside the U.N. “Super Camp” in Timbuktu and a nearby French base, an army spokesman told Reuters.

Youba Cisse, a trader in Timbuktu, told Reuters he heard at least three loud detonations coming from the direction of the camp. The U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The April 14 car bomb and rocket attacks on the heavily fortified bases by militants disguised as U.N. peacekeepers killed one U.N. peacekeeper from Burkina Faso and wounded seven French troops.

The raid, for which al Qaeada’s local affiliate JNIM claimed responsibility, marked a particularly daring assault amid an upsurge in jihadist violence in Mali and neighbouring countries.

France’s defence ministry said at least 15 assailants were killed when it scrambled fighter jets and attack helicopters to respond.

U.N. peacekeeping and French military forces in northern Mali have faced near-constant attack over the past year by determined and well-armed jihadist groups seen as the gravest threat to security across West Africa’s Sahel region.

Western-backed operations against the groups have inflicted significant casualties, yet the jihadists have savvily exploited political and ethnic tensions to recruit new members.

Reporting by Adama Diarra in Bamako and Yann Le Guernigou in Paris; Additional reporting by Kissima Diagana in Nouakchott; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by William Maclean

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