BAMAKO: A car bomb in northern Mali has wounded 15 UN peacekeepers, the United Nations and the German government said on Friday, in the latest attack in the war-torn Sahel state.
The UN said on Twitter that an evacuation was underway after a car bomb struck a temporary base near Tarkint, in the lawless north.
German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said 12 of the peacekeepers were German and that three were seriously injured.
Two of the three were in stable condition, she said in a statement, while one has undergone surgery. All of the wounded have been evacuated by helicopter, Kramp-Karrenbauer added.
The Belgian defence ministry also said in a statement that the attack had injured a Belgian soldier, who received medical attention at the site before being evacuated.
About 13,000 troops from several nations are deployed in the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission across the vast semi-arid country.
Mali is struggling to contain an insurgency that erupted in 2012 and has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives.
Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
A security official, who declined to be identified, told AFP that the forward operating base attacked on Friday was only set up the previous day after a land mine damaged a UN vehicle in the area.
The peacekeepers set up the base in order to remove the damaged vehicle, the security official said.
On Monday, six French soldiers and four civilians were wounded when a car bomb detonated near a French armoured car in central Mali.
Former colonial power France, which intervened in Mali in 2013 to beat back the militants, currently has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel region.
But French President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this month that he would wind down the Barkhane force.
France plans to refocus its energies on strengthening an international task force of special forces in Mali, known as Takuba.
Several hundred people gathered in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday to demand the departure of French forces from the country, an AFP journalist reported.