French army describes ‘underhanded’ extremist attack in Mali

PARIS—The French army says a deadly extremist attack on a UN military camp in northern Mali was “particularly sophisticated and underhanded.”

Officials have said the attack on a camp for the UN mission known as MINUSMA in Timbuktu on Saturday left one peacekeeper dead and others wounded.

The French army said in a statement Sunday that seven soldiers from the French military operation known as Barkhane were among the injured and that 15 attackers were killed in a counterattack.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though a number of extremist groups are active in the region.

The attack comes as Canadian military personnel are preparing for a deployment to the troubled West African nation this year.

The federal government announced in March that it would be deploying military helicopters — two Chinook transport helicopters and four armed Griffon choppers — and 250 personnel to Mali to support the ongoing dangerous United Nations mission. The Canadian aviation task force is expected to deploy in August and last 12 months.

At the time of the announcement, Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff, said that because Canadians will be involved in air operations, they wouldn’t have as much exposure to improvised explosive devices have been responsible for the “vast majority” of fatalities suffered by UN peacekeepers.

With files from Bruce Campion-Smith

TORONTO STAR

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