Eight UN peacekeepers wounded in Mali blast

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Eight UN peacekeepers were wounded Thursday in a mine explosion in Mali’s Timbuktu region, the United Nations said.

They were part of the Burkinabe contingent of the MINUSMA peacekeeping force, a UN official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Spokesman Olivier Salgado said on Twitter that the attack took place near Ber, in the Timbuktu region, and that the eight soldiers had been evacuated.

Four peacekeepers have been killed so far this month in attacks in northern and central Mali.

Militant extremist groups often use improvised explosive devices against UN and Malian forces.

With 13,000 members, MINUSMA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, is one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operations, and one of its most dangerous.

It says 175 of its troops have died from hostile acts.

Negotiations are currently underway to renew its mandate.

A recent report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Timbuktu region has seen “relative calm” in recent months, while the center of the country continued to experience high levels of violence, and the so-called three-border region with Niger and Burkina Faso had seen a “significant deterioration” in security.