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French soldiers wounded in attack on Timbuktu military base

AFP archive | Soldiers from the UN's MINUSMA force pictured in Mali.

Several French soldiers were wounded on Thursday, one of them seriously, when a military compound in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu came under attack by mortar fire.

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The Timbuktu compound houses soldiers from the UN mission (MINUSMA), the Malian army and France's Operation Barkhane.

Several mortar shells were fired into the base but only one exploded near the French soliders, said Anthony Fouchard, FRANCE 24's Mali correspondent. Soldiers immediately deployed to pursue the assailants.

Security sources initially said that between five and seven troops were wounded. Swedish defense forces later told AP that four soldiers "from another nation" had been wounded. 

The soldier who was seriously wounded is undergoing surgery at the scene while arrangements are being made for a medical evacuation.

France launched operations in Mali in January 2013 to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants who seized much of the north of the country the year before. It has since deployed more than 4,500 soldiers across the Sahel region to hunt down Islamist militants.

The United Nations later deployed a peacekeeping force of more than 11,000 troops to the struggling West African state.
 

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