Thirteen peacekeepers wounded, six soldiers killed in Mali militant attacks

A German soldier from the UN contingent MINUSMA stands during a visit of German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to Camp Castor in Gao, Mali, April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Kappeler/Pool

BAMAKO, June 25 (Reuters) - Thirteen U.N. peacekeepers, 12 Germans and one Belgian, were wounded in northern Mali on Friday by a car bomb, the U.N. mission said, while Mali's army said six of its soldiers were killed in a separate attack in the centre of the country.

The attack in the north targeted a temporary base set up by the peacekeepers near the village of Ichagara in the Gao region, where Islamist insurgents linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State are active.

A U.N. mission spokesperson said 12 of the wounded were German and one was Belgian. The mission had earlier said that 15 peacekeepers were wounded but revised that number downward.

Three of the German soldiers were severely wounded, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement. Two of them are in a stable condition and the third is still in surgery, she said.

At least six Malian soldiers were killed and one wounded in a separate attack in Boni in the neighbouring region of Mopti, the army said in a statement. It provided no further details.

Armed attacks by Islamist militants and other groups are rampant across vast swathes of Mali and its neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger despite the presence of the peacekeepers and thousands of other international troops in the region.

The U.N. mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, has deployed over 13,000 soldiers to contain violence by armed groups in the north and centre of the West African nation.

MINUSMA has recorded about 230 fatalities since 2013, making it the deadliest of the United Nations’ more than dozen peacekeeping missions.

Germany contributes up to 1,100 troops to MINUSMA. Most of them are based in Gao.

Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold in Berlin Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Jon Boyle

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