Several French soldiers were injured, including one seriously, by a mortar attack Thursday on a United Nations peacekeeping camp in Mali, French officials said.

The French military said in a statement that the attack occurred in Timbuktu near the site where a French unit is based.

About 1,600 French soldiers are deployed in Mali as part of the larger Barkhane operation led by France against Islamic extremists in the Sahel region. They are cooperating with the U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MINUSMA.

The SITE Intelligence Group said the al-Qaida-linked and Mali-based group Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen claimed responsibility for the attack.

Islamic extremists seized control of Mali's north in 2012. While they were forced out of strongholds a year later by a French-led military intervention, jihadists continue to attack Malian and French soldiers and U.N. peacekeepers.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali is the deadliest active mission in the world. Multiple extremist groups still carry out attacks throughout the vast region.