For the first time, Islamic jihadists have conducted coordinated attacks on the three military bases in Mali. The jihadists, who are reportedly linked to al-Qaeda, targeted French military bases in Kidal, Menaka, and Gao in northern Mali within the space of a few hours on Monday as they tried to coordinate attacks.

The bases were hit by rocket attacks as well as mortars but no one was injured. “There were no casualties, but there was some material damage,” a Malian military official told AFP.

Thomas Romiguier, a spokesman for the French-led coalition added that the only base damaged was the United Nations base in Kidal, which is next to the French base.

Al-Qaeda released a statement through its affiliated media network, al-Thabat saying that, “The rocket attacks of the mujahideen, in support of Islam and Muslims, targeted the bases of the French infidel army.” 

Locals in the town of Gao reported that the rocket attack began at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning. The attack on the base at Kidal was conducted after a group of men on motorcycles were observed riding around the camp before dawn, a camp security officer said.

“It was after they passed by that there was fire from rockets and machine guns. There were no deaths but there was significant material damage,” the official specified.

The violence in Mali began in 2012 with a rebellion by Tuareg separatists. However, that rebellion was hijacked by Islamic jihadists from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. In 2013, the French sent troops to the country. They promptly contained the jihadist rebels in the fiercely contested northern area of Mali, thus nearly pushing them completely out of the country.

But the jihadists regrouped and rearmed. They now control large areas of the countryside where the government has only a small presence and little control. The violence has since spread to the other neighboring countries in the Sahel: Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania.