Bamako: Two civilians and a UN peacekeeper were killed today as militants attacked a barracks used by the United Nations’ MINUSMA force in northern Mali, it said in a statement. “This morning around 5:40am (0540 GMT), the MINUSMA camp in Kidal suffered more than 30 rockets and shells during a complex attack,” the force said in a statement.
“Once the source of the shooting was established, MINUSMA force soldiers immediately returned fire two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the camp, around 6:00 am. “An initial assessment revealed the death of a MINUSMA soldier and that eight soldiers were wounded. The rockets also hit Kidal citizens outside the camp, and two deaths and four wounded were counted.”
The statement said some of the wounded were being treated at the barracks, and that air and ground patrols had been launched. A MINUSMA source told AFP the civilian victims were members of the nomadic Arab Kunta tribe, which is spread across the Saharan regions of Mali, Algeria, Mauritania and Niger. Their encampment near the UN base was hit by stray rockets as the attack got underway, the source said.
The assault came amid heightened security concerns over the deaths of two Europeans and three locals in a jihadist attack on a nightclub in the capital Bamako. It was not immediately clear who was responsible, although Kidal is the cradle of northern Mali’s Tuareg separatist movement, which has launched several uprisings from the region since the 1960s. Tuareg and Arab militias — loyalist and anti-government — have forged a peace agreement with the Malian government formulated earlier this month in Algiers, although several rebel groups are yet to sign.
“MINUSMA expresses its indignation at the cowardice of the perpetrators of these attacks, which also killed innocent citizens,” the statement said. “MINUSMA strongly condemns these heinous acts of terror whose sole purpose is to thwart all ongoing efforts to establish lasting peace in Mali.” Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadist groups also carry out operations in Kidal, including the 2013 murders of French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon.