UN: 1 Chadian peacekeeper dead in northern Mali

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A U.N. military vehicle struck a land mine Sunday in the volatile Kidal region of northern Mali, killing a Chadian soldier and wounding four other peacekeepers, a spokesman for the U.N. mission in the West African country said.

Spokesman Olivier Salgado told The Associated Press that the land mine was triggered in the vicinity of Aguel’hoc.

The region has been the scene of earlier mine explosions, including one that killed four U.N. peacekeepers and wounded 14 others earlier this month.

There was no immediately claim of responsibility for Sunday’s explosion but previous mines have been blamed on Islamic extremists linked to al-Qaida.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council strongly condemned the attack in separate statements.

“These attacks will not alter the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian people in their search for peace,” Ban said his statement.

Northern Mali fell under control of Tuareg separatists and then al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. A French-led intervention last year scattered the extremists, but some remain active and there have been continued bursts of violence.

U.N. troops are now trying to stabilize the north, and peace talks have begun between the Malian government and Tuaregs, who maintain a heavy presence in Kidal and have pushed back against the authority of the Bamako-based government. Al-Qaida is not participating in those discussions.

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