20 peacekeepers wounded in Mali attack: UN

Unidentified militants attacked a temporary base near Kerena, a village in the war-torn centre of the Sahel state, at around 7 am.

FILE: Peacekeepers from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) patrol Menaka in Mali. Picture: United Nations Photo.

BAMAKO, Mali - Around 20 United Nations peacekeepers were wounded in an attack on their base in central Mali on Wednesday, a UN spokesperson said, offering a provisional toll.

Unidentified militants attacked a temporary base near Kerena, a village in the war-torn centre of the Sahel state, at around 7 am.

Olivier Salgado, the spokesman for the UN's MINUSMA mission in Mali, said the position was "targeted by direct and indirect fire".

First established in 2013, the 13,000-strong MINUSMA is the deadliest peacekeeping mission in the world.

Over 230 of its personnel have died since the mission began, and improvised explosive devices killed five peacekeepers last month alone.

The injured soldiers in the latest attack were from a Togolese contingent of peacekeepers, according to an official briefed on the matter, who requested anonymity.

Some peacekeepers were gravely wounded, the official added.

Mali has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency which first emerged in the north of the country 2012, and has since spread to the centre of the country and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands more have had to flee their homes.

Central Mali is one of the epicentres of the regional conflict, where attacks on soldiers and ethnic killings are common.

The area where Wednesday's attack occurred has also recently seen a surge of violence.

Ten Malian troops were killed in the same region of central Mali last week, for example, when al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists attacked their camp.

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