At least 27 UN peacekeepers were wounded and one killed in an attack in central Mali on Wednesday, when their base was attacked by unknown assailants, the UN mission in the country, known as MINUSMA, said. According to the UN, the killed peacekeeper was from Togo.

The UN base near the town of Douentza was attacked around 07:00 GMT.

“For several months we have been carrying out numerous security operations in this part of Mali, the main objective of which is to help reduce violence against populations, restore calm in areas where community tensions are reported, and reduce the threat of improvised explosive devices, as is the case in the Douentza region.”

“These operations disturb the enemies of peace, but we remain committed alongside the Malians, for the Malians,” said the head of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif.

Islamic terrorist groups linked to both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State often attack UN peacekeepers and Malian soldiers in the Sahel. The terrorists regularly move between the borders of the G5 nations — Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mauritania — which comprise the Sahel region. 

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, UN chief Stéphane Dujarric, emphasized that attacks against UN blue helmets “may constitute a war crime” and called on the Malian authorities to “spare no efforts in promptly holding to account the perpetrators of this heinous attack.” 

MINUSMA has more than 13,000 troops in the country to contain the violence that has wracked Mali since the Taureg rebellion began in 2012. The rebellion quickly turned into an insurgency by Islamic terrorist groups.

The Malian government, with both French and UN backing, has since been trying to stabilize the country.