Jihadists launched an attack on a United Nations camp in northern Mali, killing three peacekeepers from the West African nation of Guinea and wounding several others, officials said Friday.
Al-Qaida's affiliate in Mali claimed responsibility for the attack during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to a statement translated by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terror groups. The extremist group said it struck Guinean forces east of Kidal city after attacking the camp with intensive rocket and mortar fire Thursday.
"It resulted in killing and wounding a number of Guinean soldiers participating in this Crusader alliance that invades this good land,'' the statement said.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission confirmed the attack and deaths. The U.N. mission in Mali is the deadliest active peacekeeping mission in the world.
In the Guinean capital of Conakry, the government expressed its condolences to the victims' families, calling the attack "barbaric.''
The spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric, condemned the attack, saying in a statement that targeting peacekeepers "may constitute war crimes under international law.''
The statement also said eight peacekeepers had been wounded.
The attack comes days after France circulated a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize military action by five countries in Africa's vast Sahel region against extremist groups.
The countries are Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. The joint force is expected to comprise up to 5,000 personnel, with headquarters in Mali. The European Union is providing 50 million euros in support.