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Twenty U.N. peacekeepers wounded in central Mali attack

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Twenty United Nations peacekeepers were wounded, several seriously, in central Mali on Wednesday when their base came under fire, the U.N. mission said.

The base near the town of Douentza was attacked around 0700 GMT, the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, said in a statement. It did not say who was responsible.

Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State regularly attack U.N. peacekeepers and Malian soldiers in the area, which the militants use as a base for attacks across the Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert.

“We have been conducting numerous security operations in this part of Mali for several months now,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of MINUSMA.

“These operations disturb the enemies of peace, but we remain committed to stand by the Malians, for the Malians.”

Four U.N. peacekeepers were killed and five wounded in central Mali on Jan. 14 after a convoy struck an explosive device and came under fire.

MINUSMA has over 13,000 troops to contain violence caused by armed groups in the north and centre of the country. The mission has recorded about 230 fatalities since 2013, making it the worst-hit of the U.N.’s more than a dozen peacekeeping missions.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Bate Felix and Giles Elgood

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