Peacekeepers killed in Mali

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Unidentified gunmen killed three Guinean members of a UN peacekeeping force in southern Mali in what the force described as a robbery gone wrong, far from the northern area where troops have been attacked by insurgents.

The peacekeepers were in a rental vehicle returning to Guinea for leave when they were stopped south-west of Bamako on Friday night, MINUSMA said.

UN peacekeepers and French forces are stationed in central and northern Mali to combat well -armed jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State seen as threatening security across Africa’s Sahel region.

A MINUSMA spokesman said the attack was a botched robbery, distinguishing it from targeted attacks by jihadists using mortars and mines in the north of the country making Mali the deadliest UN mission site with more than 160 peacekeepers killed.

An incident so close to the capital is rare and underscores how precarious the security situation is in Mali, where government troops struggle to maintain control of vast swathes of sparsely populated desert.