Suspected militants attacked a U.N. peacekeepers base in the northern Mali town of Kidal with mortars and a truck bomb on Friday, leaving several people dead and others wounded, authorities said.
Spokesman for the separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), Radouane Aly, said that there was gunfire and mortar fire against the MINUSMA (UN peacemaking mission) camp.
“At about 7 a.m. (0700 GMT) the MINUSMA base in Kidal was the target of a complex attack which, according to provisional figures, caused the death of three blue helmets and around 30 wounded,” Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Mali representative of the U.N. secretary general, said in a statement.
The attack is a fresh indicator of instability in the desert region that is laden with extremist groups including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb who have staged increasingly bold raids in recent months and have targeted the U.N. base several times.
“This combination attack using rockets and a van bomb is the second of this type against soldiers from the Gangan battalion in this region,” said a statement from Guinea’s government.
The base forms part of an attempt by the MINUSMA mission to end violence in Mali in the wake of a takeover of the north by militant groups in 2012, which was thwarted by a French-led intervention force that pushed the militants out of key towns a year later.
Yet, the U.N. mission has not been able to maintain peace and militants have expanded their attacks in recent months into other parts of Mali and beyond.
The latest assaults include an attack on a hotel in Mali’s capital in November in which 20 people died, and one on Burkina Faso’s capital in January in which 30 were killed.
In addition, a decades-long separatist struggle has been taking place in northern Mali by ethnic Tuaregs.
There was no official confirmation or claim of responsibility for the Kidal raid.
In a separate incident, a military convoy was ambushed on the road between Timbuktu and Goundon in northern Mali leaving three soldiers dead on Friday and three others wounded, a military source said.
The wounded were evacuated to Timbuktu hospital. It was not clear who conducted the ambush.