Machine gun attack on U.N. Mali base in Timbuktu kills seven

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a United Nations peacekeeping base in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu on Monday, officials said, killing seven people, including five Malian security guards, a gendarme and civilian.

“An attack has been launched against one of our camps in Timbuktu (by) unknown men with machine guns,” Radhia Achouri, a spokeswoman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, said earlier by telephone, adding that it had deployed a rapid response force with helicopters to the scene.

Mali’s army spokesman Selon Diaran Kone said the incident was now over, as the assailants had been repelled and four of them killed.

In another incident on Monday, armed men opened fire on U.N. peacekeepers and Malian troops in Douentza, in central Mali. A U.N. spokesman in New York, Farhan Haq, said a peacekeeper was killed during the clash, without giving further details.

Islamist militants frequently target the U.N. peacekeeping mission, and more than 100 peacekeepers have been killed, making it the most deadly U.N. mission to date.

Militants killed three United Nations peacekeepers in a attack outside their base in Kidal in northern Mali in June.

(This story corrects toll in headline, first paragraph to seven; corrects paragraph four to clarify that a U.N. peacekeeper was killed in Douentza, not Timbuktu; corrects name of U.N. spokesman in New York to Farhan Haq)

Reporting by Adama Diarra; Additional reporting by Nellie Peyton in Dakar, Riham Alkousaa at the United Nations; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Larry King