Militants strike north Mali airports with suicide truck, rockets

Militants have struck two airports in northern Mali with an explosives-laden truck and rockets, residents and a security source said on Wednesday, in attacks that caused no victims but pointed to desert jihadists intensifying their insurgency.

According to Reuters, in Gao, the offices of the U.N. peacekeeping mission located next to the airport terminal were razed by Tuesday evening’s truck-bomb explosion which forced the airport to close.

French soldiers stationed in Gao took forensic evidence from among a tangle of papers, corrugated iron sheets and fragments of the attacker’s flesh and bones strewn out next to the runway.

Al Mourabitoun, a group closely linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claimed the attack on social media.

Gao, seized by Islamist militants in 2012 before French forces drove them out a year later, is considered the best secured town in northern Mali with multiple U.N., French and Malian army checkpoints along main roads.

A U.N. security source said that the attackers had passed through the regular checkpoints by using vehicles with a U.N. label. A spokesman for the 13,000-strong U.N. mission could not immediately confirm the information.

“Yesterday at about 18:00 (GMT) a vehicle with explosives destroyed our pre-fabricated installations of MINUSMA at the Gao airport,” said Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the peacekeeping mission, adding that another vehicle was being examined.

There were no fatalities beyond the attackers whose number has not yet been confirmed. The U.N. security source said two people on site were injured.

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