Mali officials: 1 killed, 3 injured in shelling of northern city of Gao by unknown assailants

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BAMAKO, Mali — One person was killed and three injured on Sunday as unidentified assailants shelled the city of Gao in northern Mali, the country's U.N. peacekeeping mission and a hospital official said.

At least three rockets were fired at around 6 a.m., according to a U.N. statement.

"Preliminary reports indicate that one of them hit a house, killing a woman and injuring two civilians currently being treated at Gao hospital," the statement said.

The superintendent of the city's hospital, Ibrahim Maiga, said a total of three people were injured and "in serious condition."

Residents said they counted about six shells.

The U.N. mission "strongly condemns this terrorist attack on innocent civilians," its statement said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

A U.N. team was dispatched to assist Malian authorities in their investigation and U.N. police stepped up their patrols in the city, the U.N. statement said.

Northern Mali came under control of separatist rebels and then Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaida following a military coup in 2012. A French-led intervention in early 2013 scattered the extremists but did not drive them out entirely. The separatists are still present in Mali's north which remains insecure despite the efforts of U.N. peacekeepers.

An attack last month on a restaurant and bar in the southern capital, Bamako, raised fears that the militants could be extending their reach. The March 7 attack on La Terrasse killed five people including a French citizen and a Belgian national. Al Mourabitoun, or The Sentinels, a northern Mali jihadist group allied with al-Qaida, quickly claimed responsibility.

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