At least six people have lost their lives in a "terrorist attack” carried out by unknown militants in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali, the government says.
The militants raided a convoy of civilian vehicles guarded by police forces in an area some 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gao, the biggest city in northern Mali, at around 7:30 a.m. local time (0730 GMT) on Tuesday, the government said in a statement.
The Malian government did not specify who was traveling in the civilian vehicles and why they were being escorted by security forces.
The terrorist attack with rocket-launchers caused the death of six civilians and wounded two others including a soldier,” according to the statement.
A security source told AFP that the raid began when one of the vehicles hit a landmine planted by the militants.
Two other vehicles arrived at the scene and were damaged before the militants "came out from their hiding place to fire on the civilians,” the source added.
Three trucks hired by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) later arrived and were set alight by the militants, according to the source.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack; however, such raids are often carried out or attributed to Tuareg-led rebels, who are operating mostly in Mali’s restive north.
The Tuareg rebels took control of northern Mali, which they call Azawad, in January 2012. The country has witnessed months of turmoil ever since.