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
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
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.