AA – Nine Nigerian peacekeepers serving with a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali have been killed in an ambush by unidentified militants in the northern city of Gao, a Malian military source has said.
“A group of unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles attacked Nigerian troops deployed under the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in southern Gao,” the source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity.
Since early September, U.N. peacekeepers deployed in northern Mali have been the target of repeated attacks by militants.
On September 18, five peacekeepers were killed and three others wounded in a bomb attack in the northern city of Kidal. The bombing came days after a similar attack – also near Kidal – left four peacekeepers dead and 15 injured.
Tensions erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and a Tuareg rebellion that ultimately allowed Al-Qaeda-linked militant groups to take over the northern half of country.
In early 2013, former colonial power France sent troops to Mali and – with the help of Chadian and other African forces – flushed Islamist militants from the country’s main northern cities.