Two UN peacekeepers killed in Mali suicide attack

File photo of United Nations soldiers on patrol in the northern Malian city of Kidal (AFP Photo/Kenzo Tribouillard)

Bamako (AFP) - Two United Nations peacekeepers, from Burkina Faso, were killed in a suicide car bombing in northern Mali, the UN and Mali security sources said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "deeply saddened" by the deaths and the wounding of at least seven other peacekeepers in Ber, a village in Mali's Timbuktu region.

"Jihadists carried out a car bombing at the MINUSMA (United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali) camp in Ber on Saturday," a Mali security source told AFP.

One of the peacekeepers died immediately, and another succumbed later to injuries he received during the attack, a MINUSMA source said.

The car carrying the bomb entered the camp "at high speed... there was a huge explosion," the source added.

Mali descended into crisis in January 2012, when Tuareg separatists who have waged a long-running, low-level insurgency mounted a string of attacks that the army was ill-equipped to defend.

A military coup in Bamako led to further chaos as Islamist extremists seized the north of Mali.

A French-led military operation launched in January 2013 ousted the extremists. But periodic attacks have resumed.

UN peacekeepers took over security duties from African troops in Mali in July 2013, with a mission to ensure stability in the conflict-scarred nation after groups linked to Al-Qaeda occupied much of the north of the country.

"Such attacks will not deter the United Nations from its efforts to support the Malian people in their search for peace in their country," a spokesman for the UN leader Ban said in a statement.

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