Mali militants attack bases disguised as United Nations peacekeepers

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The statement said some of the jihadists wore peacekeepers' uniforms and explosive belts and used vehicles covered up with United Nations and Malian army codes.

A rocket and auto bomb attack left one United Nations peacekeeper dead, a dozen wounded and another dozen French soldiers hurt at Timbuktu's airport area, Mali's security ministry said Saturday.

More than a dozen others, including many French soldiers, were wounded, according to the government.

"MINUSMA confirms a significant complex attack on its camp in Timbuktu mortars, exchange of fire, vehicle suicide bomb attack", the mission tweeted.

It made no mention of casualties but said the situation was "under control".

The first exploded while troops managed to immobilise the second, the ministry said.

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But one foreign security source told the AFP news agency the scale of the most recent assault was "unprecedented" in Timbuktu.

"We've never seen an attack like this", an official from the Timbuktu governorate told AFP.

The UN's MINUSMA force confirmed that one of its peacekeepers had been killed in Saturday's four-hour rocket, mortar and auto bomb attack at worldwide troops' "Super Camp" neighboring Timbuktu's airport, and around a dozen were wounded. It has more than 11,000 troops and 1,741 police, and is considered one of the UN's most unsafe missions. "Shell fire, rockets, and explosions and perhaps even suicide bombers".

Mali's unrest stems from a 2012 Tuareg separatist uprising against the state which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key cities in the north.

MINUSMA supports political processes in Mali, in addition to carrying out a number of security-related tasks, and this was the largest attack against the Mission since its deployment five years ago, and the third this month.

Extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

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