Ghislain Mariette/ ECPAD/ AP

Mali suicide attack kills four UN peacekeepers

Assault raises concerns about the possible return of armed Tuareg rebels to the region

A suicide attack at a United Nations camp in northern Mali killed four Chadian peacekeepers Wednesday and wounded 10 others, the country's peacekeeping mission said, raising concerns of worsening security as government officials warn about the possible return of armed rebels to the region.

A vehicle exploded at the entrance of the camp in the town of Aguelhoc, in the Kidal region, at 3:30 p.m., according to a U.N. statement issued on Wednesday evening. The injured included six peacekeepers and four Malian soldiers.

U.N. mission chief Albert Koenders called the attack "cowardly and odious."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack "in the strongest terms" and extended condolences to the families of the victims, his spokesman said in a statement.

"This attack will not diminish the resolve of the United Nations to support the Malian people in their efforts to achieve peace and stability for all of Mali," the spokesman said.

Northern Mali fell under control of ethnic Tuareg rebels, some linked to Al-Qaeda, following a military coup in 2012. Sources estimate there are at least 3 million Tuareg living in five African countries, including Algeria and Nigeria.

French-led intervention last year scattered the rebel fighters, though the Tuaregs maintain a heavy presence in Kidal and have pushed back against the authority in Mali’s capital, Bamako.

Tensions escalated sharply last month when Prime Minister Moussa Mara, who took office in April, visited Kidal for the first time since his appointment. In response, Tuareg rebels launched an assault on government buildings in the region, killing eight soldiers, six local government officials and two others in what the government described as a "declaration of war."

It was unclear who carried out Wednesday's attack, which came just one day after three northern Mali rebel groups signed an accord in Algiers pledging to work for peace in the region through inclusive talks.

Al Jazeera and wire services 

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Africa, Mali
United Nations

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