BAMAKO - Al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters rocketed French military bases in Kidal, Menaka and Gao in northern Mali within the space of a few hours on Monday morning, a rare sign of coordinated raids on international forces. The camps were hit by "indirect fire", although no deaths or injuries were reported, said Thomas Romiguier, a spokesman for French forces, who have more than 5,100 personnel spread across the region. The only damage was to a United Nations base in Kidal, which is next to the French base, Romiguier said. The head of the U.N. mission condemned the attacks. In statement on Al Thabat, an affiliated media outfit, al Qaeda said: "The rocket attacks of the mujahideen, in support of Islam and Muslims, targeted the bases of the French infidel army." A witness in Gao said several rockets had been fired towards the French base at around 5:30 a.m. (0530 GMT). The mayor of Menaka, Nanout Kotia, told Reuters he had heard explosions coming from the direction of the military camp outside town, but could not give any more details. French forces killed Bah ag Moussa, a military leader of al Qaeda's North Africa wing, on Nov. 10. The former Malian army colonel, also known as Bamoussa Diarra, was a right-hand man of Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of Mali's most prominent jihadist group, Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), which has repeatedly attacked soldiers and civilians in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso. REUTERS
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