Four peacekeeping soldiers were killed and several others wounded in an attack on its base in the northern town of Aguelhok in Mali, United Nations mission (MINUSMA) has said.
Peacekeepers repelled the attack on the camp that was carried out by several “heavily armed terrorists”, MINUSMA said in a statement on Friday, adding that the attackers suffered heavy losses including several deaths.
“A provisional toll shows four peacekeepers dead”, said the statement, adding that the wounded were evacuated via helicopter.
The attack occurred some 200km from the Algerian border, targeting a contingent of peacekeepers from Chad, reports said.
The peacekeeping mission, established in 2013, has about 13,000 peacekeepers drawn from several countries operating at the centre of a multi-layered and complicated conflict that has spread across the western portion of the Sahel, a semi-arid region directly south of the Sahara desert.
More than 190 peacekeepers have died in the country, including nearly 120 killed by hostile action.
Mali has been plagued by a brutal conflict that began as a separatist movement in the north but devolved into a multitude of armed groups jockeying for control in the country’s central and northern regions.
The violence has spread into Burkina Faso and Niger, with fighters linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda exploiting the poverty of marginalised communities and inflaming tensions between ethnic groups.
The “tri-border” region – the three-country point joining Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – has seen the most intense fighting in a worsening conflict that has sparked a major humanitarian crisis.
Attacks grew fivefold between 2016 and 2020, with 4,000 people killed in the three countries last year, up from about 770 in 2016, according to the United Nations.