Bamako: Nine UN peacekeepers from Niger were killed in an ambush in northern Mali Friday, the deadliest attack on the peacekeeping mission in Mali, the UN mission said.

The peacekeepers’ convoy came under direct attack from unidentified gunmen while travelling in the northeastern region, Xinhua reported citing the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali(MINUSMA).

MINUSMA’s core task is to support the political process in Mali, in close coordination with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Since a military coup struck Mali in March 2012, its northern region has served as a stronghold of the rebels.

Mali is now in the process of restoring democracy with the help of the UN and African regional bodies, including the African Union and the ECOWAS.

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