20 UN peacekeepers wounded in central Mali attack

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Twenty United Nations peacekeepers were wounded, several seriously, in central Mali on Wednesday when their base came under fire, the UN mission said.

The base near the town of Douentza was attacked around 0700 GMT, the UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, said in a statement. It did not say who was responsible.

Militant groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State regularly attack UN peacekeepers and Malian soldiers in the area, which the militants use as a base for attacks across the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert.

“We have been conducting numerous security operations in this part of Mali for several months now,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of MINUSMA.

“These operations disturb the enemies of peace, but we remain committed to stand by the Malians, for the Malians.”

Four UN peacekeepers were killed and five wounded in central Mali on January 14 after a convoy struck an explosive device and came under fire.

MINUSMA has over 13 000 troops to contain violence caused by armed groups in the north and centre of the country.

The mission has recorded about 230 fatalities since 2013, making it the worst-hit of the UN’s more than a dozen peacekeeping missions.