The United Nations said unknown gunmen had launched an assault and escaped from a UN police base in the Malian city of Timbuktu on Friday morning, as Malian security sources also said an army checkpoint in the city had come under attack.
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the deadly attack a while later in a statement monitored by the SITE Intelligence group on Saturday.
Malian troops backed by UN helicepters recaptures the base hours after it was taken on Friday.
Olivier Salgado, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA said gunmen drove up with force to the entrance of the UN base near the former Hotel Palmeraie at around 6:30 am (0630 GMT) and then detonated their vehicle.
"An unknown number of assailants have withdrawn inside the camp. An operation is currently under way with Malian and MINUSMA forces," he said, adding that an injured police officer had been evacuated.
The area, near the entrance to the city, had been taken over by the Nigerian police peacekeepers and there were no other residents as the hotel was no longer providing service, a military source in Timbuktu said.
Also, a Malian army checkpoint in the Kabara neighbourhood near the airport was attacked by gunmen simultaneously but it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.
In 2012, militants shortly took control of the city of Timbuktu until French forces pushed them out. However, they have stepped up attacks in Mali in recent months as part of a growing regional militancy.
Last year in November, Al Mourabitoun, a militant group affiliated with Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for killing at least 27 people and wounding several others at a Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako.