The commander of the new G5 Sahel military force said the attack on its headquarters in Mali’s central town of Sevare was still underway.
Speaking from neighbouring Niger, Gen. Didier Dacko told The Associated Press that the attack began with a car explosion and that fighting was continuing.
The mission was created last year to root out jihadist violence in West Africa’s semi-arid Sahel region. It is made up of soldiers from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania.
Violence by Islamist militants has proliferated in the sparsely-populated Sahel in recent years, with groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group using central and northern Mali as a launchpad for attacks across the region.
Western powers, including France and the United States, have provided significant funding to the G5 in an bid to beat back the jihadists and take the pressure off their thousands of troops deployed to the zone.
But the force has been slow to get off the ground, hobbled by delays disbursing the money and coordinating among the different countries.
The United Nations’s own peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, declined to comment on the reports of an attack.