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Al Qaeda-linked militants kill 10 U.N. peacekeepers in Mali

The West African nation is under threat from a number of extremist groups.

BAMAKO, Mali — Al Qaeda-linked jihadists carried out one of the deadliest attacks on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in months, killing 10 peacekeepers and wounding at least 25 in northern Mali, the U.N. said Sunday.

All of the peacekeepers killed in the assault on their camp in Aguelhoc were from Chad, the U.N. secretary-general's spokesman said in a statement. He strongly condemned the attack, saying it may constitute a war crime.

Peacekeepers "responded robustly and a number of assailants were killed," the statement said. Residents said the attackers in the Sunday morning assault arrived in motorcycles and cars.

The West African nation is under threat from a number of extremist groups affiliated with al Qaeda and the Islamic State organization.

The 15,000-strong peacekeeping mission is one of several military efforts to fight the jihadists, alongside Malian forces, France's largest overseas military operation and a recently formed five-nation regional counterterror force.

Peacekeepers from Chad, a strong contributor to regional security efforts, have suffered from the repeated assaults in Mali. As of the end of 2018, 51 Chadian peacekeepers had died while serving the U.N. mission.