Chinese peacekeeper among four killed in Mali attacks

Minusma patrol in northern Mali, 18 May 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The UN mission in Mali, Minusma, was set up in 2013

A Chinese UN peacekeeper and three members of a UN de-mining unit have been killed in northern Mali.

China's foreign ministry confirmed one of its nationals was killed in a mortar attack on a UN camp in Gao that seriously wounded three others.

The UN said that "two security guards and an international expert" with a de-mining unit were also killed in a separate attack in the city.

Al-Qaeda militants have said they were behind the attacks.

The UN mission in Mali (Minusma) was set up in 2013 to help stabilise the country following a rebellion by Islamist jihadists and ethnic Tuareg fighters.

The al-Qaeda-linked insurgents, who fell out with Tuareg separatists, were ousted from northern towns by a French led-force in 2013.

Minusma is the world's deadliest UN peacekeeping mission, with 65 of its soldiers having died in active service.

Militants have continued sporadic assaults on peacekeepers from the desert hideouts.

Five UN peacekeepers - from Togo - were killed on Sunday in the Mopti region of central Mali. They came under fire after their vehicle hit a landmine.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said members of a branch led by Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmoktar were behind Tuesday's attacks in Gao.

AQIM has been behind several attacks in West Africa in the last seven months, targeting hotels in Mali and Burkina Faso and a beach resort in Ivory Cost.

Militancy in Mali

Image copyright AFP
  • October 2011: Ethnic Tuaregs launch rebellion after returning with arms from Libya
  • March 2012: Army coup over government's handling of rebellion; a month later Tuareg and al-Qaeda-linked fighters seize control of north
  • January 2013: Islamist fighters capture a central town, raising fears they could reach Bamako. Mali requests French help
  • July 2013: UN force, now totalling about 12,000, takes over responsibility for securing the north after Islamists routed from towns
  • July 2014: France launches an operation in the Sahel to stem jihadist groups
  • Attacks continue in northern desert area, blamed on Tuareg and Islamist groups
  • 2015: Terror attacks in the capital, Bamako, and central Mali

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