Three U.N. peacekeepers, one Malian soldier killed in joint operation

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 24, 2017 6:26 AM

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Three United Nations peacekeepers and one Malian soldier were killed and several others were wounded on Friday in an attack by unidentified assailants in northeastern Mali, the U.N. mission there said.

The mission (MINUSMA) said the soldiers came under fire during a joint operation in the Menaka region near Mali's border with Niger where raids by jihadist groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, have spiked over the last year.

"I condemn in the strongest terms this attack that has once again befallen the MINUSMA force as well as the (Malian army)," U.N. mission head Mahamat Saleh Annadif said in a statement.

The mission did not specify the nationalities of the soldiers.

Jihadist groups have exploited the porous borders between Mali and neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso to expand their range of operations, alarming Western powers who fear the growing influence of Islamist radicalism in the region.

A 2013 French-led military intervention drove back militants who had seized control of Mali's desert north a year earlier, but they have regrouped and now launch regular attacks against Malian soldiers, U.N. peacekeepers and civilians.

(Reporting by Souleymane Ag Anara; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Joe Bavier)