A United Nations peacekeeper and two civilians were killed Sunday during a rocket attack on a base in the northern Mali town of Kidal, BBC News reported, citing the U.N. mission. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the barrage, but the general area has been the scene of conflict between government forces and multiple rebel groups during the past three years.
At about 6 a.m. local time (2 a.m. EDT), 30 rockets rained down on the U.N. base, and peacekeepers returned fire. The attack came a day after a gunman associated with Al Mourabitoun, an Islamist group connected with al Qaeda, killed five people at a bar in Mali’s capital Bamako. Al Mourabitoun called that incident a “revenge operation” against the West, BBC News said.
The two civilians were killed Sunday when rockets presumably intended for the U.N. base instead hit a camp of Tuaregs, a nomadic people who live in North and West Africa. Four civilians were also wounded at the same time.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, designated Minusma, has been deployed in the region since July 2013, after France stepped in to stop militant groups in the north from reaching the capital, located in southern Mali. A nominal ceasefire agreement sponsored by the U.N. was signed Feb. 20 between the government and rebel groups. The events Saturday and Sunday indicate the deal has not put an end to the periodic attacks that previously occurred in Mali.
In April 2012, Tuareg rebel groups and al Qaeda-associated militants won control over the northern Mali, about a month after an army coup overthrew the government. By that June, rebel fighters had begun moving south, capturing cities, destroying libraries and shrines, and imposing Shariah, or Islamic law. In January 2013, Mali asked France to intervene in the conflict. By that July, the militants had been driven back. As the events this weekend suggest, however, the conflict has continued.