UN: Attack in Mali killed 4 UN peacekeepers and 23 attackers

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A fierce attack on a U.N. peacekeeping base in northern Mali last week killed four peacekeepers and at least 23 attackers, and injured another 34 peacekeepers, the United Nations said Monday in an updated report.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric reiterated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ salute on Friday to the bravery of Chadian peacekeepers who defended their camp in Aguelhok in the Kidal region, and his tribute to the four Chadians who lost their lives in the attack.

Dujarric said in response to a question about the number of attackers who died that the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali reported “about 23 bodies were left behind as well as equipment, including several combat vehicles.” He also reported an increase in the number of peacekeepers injured from 19 to 34.

Mali has been trying to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012.

Islamic extremist rebels were forced from power in Mali’s northern cities with the help of a 2013 French-led military operation. However, the insurgents quickly regrouped in the desert and began launching frequent attacks on the Malian army and its allies fighting the insurgency.

The extremists have expanded their reach well into central Mali, where their presence has inflamed tensions between ethnic groups in the area.

Guterres reiterated Friday that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law and that sanctions can be applied against those responsible, Dujarric said.

The U.N. chief called on Malian authorities “to spare no effort in identifying and promptly holding to account the perpetrators of this heinous attack” and reiterated U.N. support to the government and people “in their quest for peace,” the spokesman said.

The U.N. Security Council is holding a previously scheduled meeting on Mali on Tuesday where U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix is scheduled to brief members.

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