Bamako, Nov 29: Two UN peacekeepers and a contractor died in a rocket attack today on a UN base in northeast Mali claimed by the jihadist Ansar Dine group, a week after a deadly siege at a Bamako hotel shocked the country.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement that the pre-dawn attack on the camp in Kidal also left some 20 people injured, four of them seriously.
"Our camp in Kidal was attacked early this morning by terrorists using rockets," a MINUSMA official told AFP.
"They killed two Guinean peacekeepers and a civilian contractor," the source said.
"The terrorists fired shots and then fled," another UN source said.
Jihadist group Ansar Dine claims attack
A senior Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) figure, Hamadou Ag Khallini, told AFP that the attack was "in response to the violation of our lands by the enemies of Islam."
"We claim the attack in the name of all the mujahedeen," he said.
The Ansar Dine group is allied to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Macina Liberation Front, the latter of which claimed responsibility for the November 20 attack on the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital during which 20 people died, including 14 foreigners.
UN chief slams deadly attacks on peacekeepers in Mali
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday condemned a deadly attack on United Nations peacekeepers in Mali earlier in the day, stressing "the urgent need to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice".
"The secretary-general is outraged by the deadly attack against a camp of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in Kidal that claimed the lives of two UN peacekeepers and one civilian contractor," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman.
Twenty peacekeepers and civilian personnel were injured, including four seriously, the statement noted.
Earlier on Saturday, the UN Security Council, in a separate statement, "condemned in the strongest terms" the attack and called on "the government of Mali to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice and stressed that those responsible for the attack should be held accountable", Xinhua news agency reported.
In a siege that last around nine hours, armed men held around 170 guests and staff hostage before Malian, French and US forces stormed the hotel to free the captives, killing two assailants.
Two separate jihadist groups claimed responsibility for that assault: the Al-Murabitoun group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and the Macina Liberation Front from central Mali.
Four days later, a UN employee was killed in an attack on a peacekeeping convoy near the historic desert town of Timbuktu.
MINUSMA chief Mongi Hamdi said in a statement Saturday that the attacks "would not dent the determination of the UN to support the Malian people and the peace process, including assisting in the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali".
Mali has been plagued by unrest since the north of the vast west African state fell under the control of Tuareg rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.
The Islamists soon sidelined the Tuareg to take sole control of Timbuktu, Kidal and other northern towns but lost most of the ground they had captured in a French-led military intervention in January 2013.