Suspected jihadists attacked UN peacekeepers carrying out an operation with Malian defense forces Friday killing at least three peacekeepers from Niger and one Malian soldier, and injuring 14 soldiers and one civilian, UN authorities and the Security Council said. The UN mission reported that at least three assailants were killed by return fire from the peacekeepers. The mission in Mali and UN officials in New York said the assailants attacked the peacekeepers' position in Indelimane, about 43 miles west of Menaka near the border with Niger, early Friday morning. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though the Islamic State in the Sahel group is active in the region, the AP reports.
Following the attack, the UN said the Mali mission deployed three helicopters to evacuate the 14 injured peacekeepers, 13 from Niger and one from Cambodia as well as a UN civilian contractor. The UN mission's aircraft with medical teams also deployed from Kidal and Bamako to evacuate some of the wounded, the UN said. The mission in Mali dispatched a quick reaction force supported by attack helicopters to Indelimane to reinforce the peacekeepers on the ground, the UN said. The UN Security Council condemned the attack in the strongest terms and called on Mali's government to swiftly investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. Council members underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes, and any involvement could lead to UN sanctions.