At least eight United Nations peacekeepers have been killed and several others wounded in an attack in northern Mali, according to the UN Mission.
Sunday’s attack targeted the UN peacekeepers camp in Aguelhoc, 200km north of Mali’s Kidal region towards the border with Algeria, a UN official told AP news agency on condition of anonymity.
The nationalities of the peacekeepers were not immediately known. But Aguelhoc camp houses peacekeepers from Chad.
Residents confirmed the assault, saying that attackers came on motorcycles and cars. The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said the attack demanded “a robust, swift and concerted response”.
Mali is under threat from a number of armed groups affiliated with al-Qaedaand the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) groups.
The UN has deployed about 12,000 troops and police in its MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, which ranks as the most dangerous country for the peacekeepers.
Mali, the eighth largest country in Africa and one of the poorest in the world, has been struggling to return to stability after al-Qaeda-linked fighters took control of the northern areas of the country in early 2012, prompting France to intervene militarily.
The fighters were routed in a French-led military operation in 2013, but large stretches of the landlocked Sahel state remain out of government control.
A peace deal between the government and armed groups was signed in 2015, but its implementation has been slow, while attacks continue in central and northern parts of the country.
Earlier this month, both France and the United States criticised the authorities in Mali for their failure to stem the worsening violence.