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US, UN Condemn Mali Attack Claimed by Al-Qaida

Timbuktu. Mali
Timbuktu. Mali

The United States has condemned "in the strongest possible terms" Thursday's ambush on a convoy of U.N. peacekeepers in Mali, in which six people were killed and five more were wounded.

The attack took place on a road about 45 kilometers southwest of the city of Timbuktu in Mali's restive northern desert. The extremist group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the ambush.

In a statement late Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power expressed condolences to the families of the six victims, all from Burkina Faso, and to the Burkina Faso government.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon vowed that the attack will not alter the U.N.'s determination to support the Malian people and efforts to restore peace.

The members of the U.N. Security Council noted that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law.

The U.N. mission says it is evacuating all peacekeepers from the site. Two vehicles were destroyed in the attack. The mission sent helicopters and reinforcement to the scene.

Violence has continued in northern Mali despite a French-led military campaign started in early 2013 that liberated northern Mali from al-Qaida-linked Islamist rebels. They had seized control of the area after the Tuareg uprising led to a military coup that plunged Mali into chaos.

A cease-fire deal was signed among the Mali government, its allies, and northern separatist groups last year, but violations of the agreement have continued.

The Mali peacekeeping mission has the highest number of casualties of the U.N.'s 16 peacekeeping operations around the world. Forty-two peacekeepers have been killed in Mali since the mission was established in 2013.

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