UN: Suicide bomber kills 3, wounds 16 in attack on UN peacekeeper base in northern Mali

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FILE - In this file photo taken on Saturday, March 7, 2015, armed forces provide security for the nightclub, seen rear, that was attacked by gunmen in Bamako, Mali. A new report says that armed groups in Mali are carrying out a growing number of attacks, and that the violence is taking place closer to the capital than ever. Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, April 14, 2015, that militants are increasingly active in central Mali, where they have targeted civilians accused of supporting French and U.N. forces. (AP Photo/Harouna Traore,File)


BAMAKO, Mali — A suicide bomber attacked a U.N. peacekeeping base in northern Mali on Wednesday, killing at least three people and wounding 16 others, the U.N. mission said.

The renewed violence came as peace talks started again in Algeria between the Malian government and various armed groups which are active in northern Mali.

The U.N. mission known as MINUSMA said in a statement that the bomber struck around 11:30 a.m. in the town of Ansongo in Mali's northern Gao region. At least nine peacekeepers were wounded along with seven civilians.

The Gao region was under the control of al-Qaida and other extremists for about a year until a French-led military intervention scattered them in early 2013. Over the past two years, remnants of the jihadist groups have launched scores of attacks though the pace has accelerated in recent months.

In a new report this week that outlined the growing violence, Human Rights Watch said that at least 35 peacekeepers had been killed and more than 130 wounded since the U.N. mission officially began in July 2013.

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's attack, suspicion immediately fell on Islamic extremist groups who have carried out similar attacks on U.N. forces in the region.

Mali's growing violence has been particularly worrisome as it has encroached on regions far from the northern strongholds in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal. Last month a masked gunman opened fire inside a popular restaurant in the capital of Bamako, killing five people including two foreigners.

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