Four UN peacekeepers were killed on Friday when suspected Islamist militants staged a major attack on their camp in Aguelhok in northern Mali, the UN mission said.
The peacekeepers “bravely pushed back a complex attack carried out by several heavily armed terrorists,” the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said, adding that the attackers had sustained heavy losses and had abandoned “several of their dead.”
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “condemns in the strongest terms” the assault, commending the bravery of those who repelled the attack.
The incident left 19 wounded, the statement said, in addition to the four troops who were killed.
A MINUSMA source said that the attack occurred about 200km from the Algerian border, targeting a contingent of peacekeepers from Chad.
A UN source described the dawn raid as of “very large magnitude” by about 100 attackers on motorbikes and in vehicles.
“The fighting lasted three hours ... mortar shells, shooting exchanges ... attempted suicide car bombing,” the source said.
He added that about 20 assailants had been killed.
A Chadian military source said that “two of our forces’ positions were attacked. We lost four people, including our forces’ detachment commander, and 16 were injured.”
The UN force’s statement called the attack another “attempt against the peace process” that would “in no way undermine its determination to continue the execution of its mandate.”
It thanked “international forces for their aerial support.”
The attack took to 10 the number of MINUSMA troops killed this year.
Also on Friday morning, two Malian soldiers were killed and about 10 wounded in an attack blamed on militants in Diafarabe in the country’s center, Mali’s army said in a statement.
Resident Youssouf Aya said that he had seen a line of armed men on motorcycles headed toward a military post, then heard gunfire.
He said that the assailants had “briefly occupied” the military post before leaving along the Niger River.
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