UN forces (illustration)
UN forces (illustration)Flash 90

As yet unidentified gunmen launched an assault on a UN peacekeeping base and a Malian army checkpoint Friday, on the edges of Timbuktu in Mali's north.

Residents and military sources reported the attack to Reuters, noting that several bodies were lying on the ground near the UN base.

Nigerian forces are based at the UN compound. Gunfire continued to be heard from the facility on late Friday morning.

Mali was the site of a jihadist siege at a luxury hotel in late November that left 19 people dead, mostly foreigners.

Among those murdered was an Israeli businessman, who was staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel when terrorists of the Al-Murabitoun group of Al Qaeda stormed the luxury site that is a favorite among Western officials.