Six UN peacekeepers killed as convoy attacked in Mali
Six U.N. peacekeepers were killed and five severely wounded when their convoy was attacked in northern Mali just south of the ancient caravan town of Timbuktu, the U.N. peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) said on Thursday.
MINUSMA said it had sent reinforcements to the scene of the attack, about 45 km (30 miles) south of Timbuktu on the road towards the town of Goundam, and had sent in attack helicopters to the region, where armed Islamist groups have carried out several attacks against peacekeepers.
"Those responsible for this ignoble crime must be identified and brought to justice as quickly as possible," said Mongi Hamdi, special representative of the U.N. Secretary General and the head of MINUSMA.
A U.N. soldier said the convoy contained peacekeepers from the mission's contingent from Burkina Faso. MINUSMA did not identify the nationality of the victims.
A French-led military campaign in early 2013 liberated northern Mali from al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels, who seized control of the area after the Tuareg uprising led to a military coup that plunged Mali into chaos.
The latest attack took place less than two weeks after the Malian government signed a peace deal with the Tuareg-led northern separatist rebels, in the hope of allowing government forces to concentrate on fighting armed Islamist groups.
Th U.N. Security Council voted this month to impose sanctions on those responsible for attacks on MINUSMA.
Since it deployed in 2013, MINUSMA has suffered 49 fatalities, according to the U.N. Web site.