Mali Mortar Attack Kills 5 UN Peacekeepers

Mali Mortar Attack Kills 5 UN Peacekeepers
Mali Mortar Attack Kills 5 UN Peacekeepers

Five UN peacekeepers have been killed in a mortar attack on their base in Kidal in northern Mali.

Thirty others were also hurt when militants used a van packed with explosives to ram the Kidal base, before attacking it with mortar and machine gunfire.

The militant group Ansar Dine said it carried out the attack, BBC reported.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has condemned the assault—the latest in what has become the most dangerous of the UN’s current peacekeeping missions. The UN is trying to restore peace to the north, which was overrun in 2012 by militants and ethnic Tuareg groups.

The Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, who fell out with Tuareg separatists, were ousted from northern towns by a French led-force in 2013.

Ansar Dine claimed the attack as “a message to the crusader aggressors and all those who support them” in a statement carried by a Mauritanian news agency. The group is responsible for several previous assaults.

Last June, Tuareg-led rebels and other Arab groups seeking more autonomy for the north signed a ceasefire agreement with the government.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon says attacks on peacekeepers “constitute a war crime”, and will not deter them from supporting the Malian government.

Three of those killed on Friday were from Guinea. The nationalities of the other dead and wounded have not been revealed.

The attack in Kidal comes 48 hours after the UN representative in the country, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, visited the area.

It is the latest in a series of attacks on the UN force, made up of 10,000 soldiers from dozens of different contributor countries—the majority from Mali’s West African neighbors.

“This serious act reflects the disarray of the enemies of peace since it comes at a time when the implementation of the peace agreement increasingly becomes a reality in Mali,” Annadif said in a statement.

In a separate incident, three Malian soldiers were killed in an ambush on a military convoy near Timbuktu. It is not clear who is behind the attack.