December 14, 2015 / 8:34 AM / in 2 years

Rockets fired at north Mali's Gao: military, witnesses

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Attackers fired rockets early on Monday at Mali’s northern city of Gao, which serves a base for U.N. peacekeepers and a French regional security force, military sources and residents said.

The United Nations said there had been four explosions but no reports so far of injuries or damage.

Islamist militants seized major towns in Mali’s desert north in 2012. They were driven out a year later by French forces but continue to carry out attacks on Western and Malian targets and have intensified their insurgency in recent weeks.

Four explosions rang out at around 5:30 local time (12.30 a.m. ET), in the city and near Gao’s airport, the spokeswoman for the 10,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission to Mali, Radhia Achouri, said.

The precise target was not immediately clear, she added.

Gao, widely seen as the safest city in northern Mali, is also a major base for France’s anti-terrorism force Barkhane which operates across five Sahel countries.

Two weeks ago, rockets were fired at a MINUSMA base in Kidal, killing three people inside. Armed men also attacked a luxury hotel in the southern capital Bamako last month, killing 20 people.

Reporting by Souleymane Ag Anara and Tiemoko Diallo; Additional reporting and writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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