(Reuters) – A U.N. peacekeeper was killed and four others wounded on Sunday when their vehicle hit an explosive device in northern Mali, the U.N. mission (MINUSMA) said. The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.
U.N. peacekeeping and French forces are stationed in Mali to combat jihadist groups seen as threatening security across Africa’s Sahel region.
The soldiers had been participating in a patrol near the village of Aguelhok when the blast hit, U.N. mission spokesman Olivier Salgado tweeted. Elsewhere on Sunday, peacekeepers in Mali’s central region of Mopti exchanged fire with members of an unidentified armed group after they came under attack, he said.
The West African country has been in conflict since 2012 when Islamists hijacked an ethnic uprising by Tuaregs in the north. More recently the violence has moved to central Mali, where fighting between farmers and herders has also surged this year.
Jihadist groups have exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbors to boost recruitment and render swathes of territory ungovernable.
Less than a week ago, 38 Malian soldiers were killed in a double attack on two army camps in central Mali – among the heaviest losses for Mali’s army in recent years.