The United Nations condemned in the strongest terms a rocket attack Saturday on a U.N. base in Kidal, northern Mali, which killed two U.N. peacekeepers and a civilian contractor and injured at least 20 other people.
The U.N. Security Council called on Mali's government to quickly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.
A senior member of the al-Qaida-linked Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) claimed responsibility for the violence, according to the French news agency AFP, saying the attack was "in response to the violation of our lands by the enemies of Islam." The claim could not be independently verified.
Member counties underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers might constitute war crimes under international law, the U.N. said in a statement.
Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomever they are committed, the statement said.
Saturday’s attack followed a militant assault last week on a luxury hotel in Mali's capital, Bamako, that left at least 20 people dead.
Two West African militant groups — al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and its affiliate al-Mourabitoun — claimed joint responsibility for the November 20 attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel.
On Friday, Malian forces arrested two men in connection with the hotel attack.
The violence underscores the threat posed by militants who remain active in northern and central Mali despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers.
Islamist groups took over the north after a military coup in Bamako in 2012, but a French-led military force ousted them from power in northern Mali in 2013. Yet violence has continued and spread into formerly safe areas in the south.