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UN Peacekeeper, 2 Civilians Killed in Mali Rocket Attack

by VOA News March 08, 2015

Three people were killed and 12 others were wounded in rocket attack on a United Nations base camp in northern Mali.

A U.N. statement said more than 30 rockets were fired on the MINUSMA (U.N. Mali peacekeeping force) compound in Kidal, killing one peacekeeper and injuring eight other soldiers. The shells also struck a nearby encampment for Arab nomads, leaving two dead and four wounded.

​​Officials said MINUSMA forces immediately returned fire from the camp in retaliation.

It was not immediately clear who is responsible for the attack early Sunday.

The attack came a day after gunmen killed at least five people and wounded several others in an attack on a restaurant in Mali's capital, Bamako.

The attack Saturday on La Terrasse restaurant took place in the early morning hours. A hooded gunman ran into the restaurant and opened fire on guests then got into a vehicle where another was waiting and they sped away, police said.

Two people were detained shortly afterwards, but police could not confirm that they were linked to the attack.

Three Malians, a French national and a Belgian were killed. The restaurant is in a Bamako neighborhood popular with expatriates.

The Islamist group, al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for the attack.

'Cowardly act'

French President Francois Hollande denounced the attack as a 'cowardly act' and said that security has been stepped up at the French embassy and other French installations in Mali, a former French colony.

France has helped wrest control of Mali's northern territory from separatist rebels and al Qaida-linked fighters. It still has about 3,000 troops there. Mali's government signed a preliminary peace deal recently with some of the country's northern separatist groups, but the main Tuareg rebel alliance asked for more time for consultations before agreeing to the accord.

The region remains plagued by violence, but Bamako, in the south, has been largely peaceful.

In a separate incident in northern Mali, an angry mob lynched and burned two suspected bombers in the town of Gao Saturday, security sources said. The suspects were planning to set off bombs remotely when they were surprised by Gao residents who reportedly would not be stopped.

In a statement, Mr. Hollande's office said France has agreed with Mali to implement new measures to reinforce security, although no details were given. The statement also said President Hollande will meet with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to show his sympathy and France's support.

'Resolve to fight terrorism'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is visiting Paris, called the attack in Bamako a 'horrific' and 'cowardly' act of terrorism. He added that the act of opening fire on a restaurant filled with innocent civilians 'only strengthens our resolve to fight terrorism in all of its forms, wherever it exists.'

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders also condemned the attack.

The Mauritanian news website Al Akhbar has said that the al-Qaida-linked group al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for an attack in Mali's capital that killed five people.

Al Akhbar often posts statements by Islamist militants in Mali.

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