Five people died in a shelling attack on the northern Malian city of Timbuktu, a local official said Friday, updating an earlier toll.

The killings come a month and a half into a jihadist blockade of the area.

The attack happened on Thursday, with the five victims buried on Friday, Timbuktu regional governor Bakoun Kante was quoted as saying by local media.

A medical source reported that another 20 people had been injured in the attack.

Earlier another official in Timbuktu said; "Three shells were fired by the jihadists in Timbuktu. There are at least three dead civilians, including children".

The Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in August declared "war in the Timbuktu region", warning trucks from neighbouring regions not to enter the city.

A month and a half later, tens of thousands of inhabitants remain almost completely cut off from the world.

Witnesses have described to AFP a life of scarcity and fear, as shells have begun to rain down and basic necessities are beginning to run short.

Jihadists have been extending their hold over rural areas around the better-defended towns in northern Mali, likely aiming to increase pressure on the central government rather than to take over the towns.

Mali's ruling military regime, which seized power in 2020, faces security challenges throughout the country but has played down the situation in Timbuktu.