SHAFAQNA – At least five people were killed in a gun attack Monday on a Malian army base close to the Mauritanian frontier, military sources said.
Gunmen slipped into the camp in Nampala early in the morning before opening fire, a source in the UN’s MINUSMA mission in the country told AFP.
“For now I cannot say who the dead were. They were all wearing military fatigues,” another military source said, adding that two injured Malian soldiers were being treated in the home of the town’s mayor.
The UN source said unidentified fighters managed to get into the camp “with relative ease” about 0615 GMT and started shooting, with Malian troops returning fire.
Fighting went on for more than three and a half hours, with the attackers only retreating at 1100 GMT.
A defence ministry spokesman confirmed the fighting in Nampala, 530 kilometres (330 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako.
“Our positions were attacked early this morning… We confronted the enemy and reinforcements are now being sent from a neighbouring area to Nampala,” he said.
Elsewhere, six Nigerien soldiers of the UN’s MINUSMA mission were injured in the northeast on Sunday, with gunmen also burning four UN trucks.
A French-led military operation halted a jihadist takeover of the desert north of the vast west African country in January 2013, but sporadic attacks have continued.
France has kept 1,000 troops in northern Mali since Operation Serval as part of a wider counter-terrorism operation.
The new operation, called Barkhane, is taking place across Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad and involves a total 3,000 French troops as well as soldiers from neighbouring states.