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BAMAKO, Mali - Nine United Nations peacekeepers were killed in an ambush on their convoy on Friday, the deadliest attack on the U.N. mission in Mali yet. The peacekeepers, who were from Niger, came under attack from heavily armed gunmen on motorcycles between the northeastern towns of Menaka and Ansongo, U.N. mission spokesman Olivier Salgado told Reuters. "I am horrified by this cowardly act of terrorism," said Arnauld Akodjenou, the deputy head of the U.N. mission. "Once again, lives have been lost today in the name of peace in Mali."
U.N. peacekeepers have deployed across Mali's north in an effort to secure the vast desert zone that was occupied by a mix of al Qaeda-linked Islamists in 2012 until the insurgents were scattered by French forces last year. France has since redeployed some of its forces elsewhere and there has been a spike in attacks by Islamists in recent months.