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Rockets fired in Mali's city of Gao

21 November 2013, 12:35

Bamako - Rockets were fired on northern Mali's largest city of Gao on Thursday, four days before legislative elections are held in the troubled west African nation, security sources said.

The first shot was heard around 05:00, a security source in Gao said, adding that it was "a powerful shot, which made a lot of noise but left no damage".

A military source in the city said there had been three rockets fired, adding they had fallen outside the urban area, into the Niger river.

Fisherman Boureima Maiga said he was on his boat when he heard "a loud noise and saw something fall into the river".

Residents also reported seeing French military aircraft above the city.

The rocket fire comes ahead of legislative elections on Sunday, three months after a presidential poll, which Mali hopes will see a full return to stability after a coup in March 2012 plunged the country into crisis.

The coup opened the way for Islamist groups to seize the vast north of the country, where they for nine months ran cities under their brutal version of sharia law.

Former colonial power France intervened in January to drive out the radicals.

After several months of calm, with French and African troops overseeing security, jihadist groups launched fresh attacks in September, leaving a dozen civilians, Malians and Chadian troops dead.

On 2 November two French reporters were kidnapped and killed in the far northern city of Kidal by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.



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