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UN condemns Mali attack as Islamist group claims responsibility

The United Nations has condemned an attack in Mali's capital which killed five people and wounded at least eight, including two UN experts. Jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun has claimed responsibility for the assault.

Malian authorities were on Sunday searching for those responsible for killing a French national, a Belgian working as a security guard for a European Union delegation, a Malian policeman and two other Malians in and around the La Terrasse restaurant and nightclub in Bamako early Saturday. A masked gunman opened fire and threw grenades before escaping in a getaway vehicle, according to witnesses. Hospital sources in Bamako have reported at least eight people were wounded.

"The killer came here because there were foreigners. He wanted to kill foreigners, that's for sure," a waiter at the venue, which is popular with expatriates, told news agency AFP.

Hours after the attack, the Mauritanian website Al-Akhbar carried an audio recording of a spokesman for jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun, in which they claimed responsibility for the attack.

"We in the Al-Mourabitoun announce our responsibility for the latest operations in Bamako, which were carried out by the brave knights of the Mourabitoun to avenge the Prophet Muhammad against the infidel West, which ridiculed our prophet, and to avenge the killing of our brother Ahmed el Tilemsi," the man said. While that recording could not immediately be independently verified, the website it was published on is known for being used by extremists in the region to publish statements.

Map of Mali showing Bamoko

While conflict has plagued Mali's vast north, daily life had until now remained largely unaffected in the capital

Al-Mourabitoun is led by Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhta, while el Tilemsi was a founding member of a the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA).

Police had earlier announced they had arrested two Malians but later said they were not involved in the attack.

In the wake of Saturday's attack, which European leaders

condemned as terrorism

, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement in which he joined the Security Council in calling on Mali's government to "swiftly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice."

He also reaffirmed the need to combat "threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts."

Mali faces instability in the north of the country, with former colonial power France leading a military operation to expel al Qaeda-linked fighters in 2013. However, this is the first attack of its type in the capital in recent years. It comes as a

peace deal

between the government and northern separatist groups is in the

process of being signed.

On Sunday, there were also reports a rocket attack on a UN base in northern Mali, with unconfirmed reports of fatalities.

se/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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