Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists attack United Nations base in north Mali, killing 8

An al Qaida-linked Islamist group has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 10 United Nations peacekeepers from Chad in the north of Mali on Sunday.

On Sunday, an unknown number of terrorists attacked a base belonging to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA, located in Aguelhok in the northern part of the West African country, the peacekeeping mission said.

A Malian security source spoke of at least six killed and 19 wounded, while a diplomat in northern Mali told AFP that several of the attackers were also killed.

It said peacekeepers had thwarted the attack, but eight died and several were wounded.

There are now 20 Irish soldiers in the west African nation, as part of an European Union mission training Malian soldiers.

Mali continues to be targeted by Islamist groups, with a 2015 peace deal signed between the government and separatist forces having done little to deter violence.

But the accord has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants, who have also staged attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, condemned the attack and said it "demands a robust, immediate and concerted response from all forces", adding that MINUSMA "will not let this barbarity go unpunished".

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.

And Washington renewed its warning that it would push for changes to the peacekeeping mission in Mali, possibly a major drawdown, if there was no progress.

Operations were suspended after an attack on their headquarters in mid-2018. The UN Security Council then deployed peacekeepers, which have been targets of a guerrilla campaign. The countries working in the G5 force comprise Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

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