Three United Nations peacekeepers were killed on Tuesday when their convoy struck a roadside bomb in jihadist-torn central Mali, the mission said in a fresh blow to the long-running operation.
"A MINUSMA Force convoy hit an Improvised Explosive Device #IED today," it said in a statement that gave a preliminary toll of three dead and five seriously injured.
Mali, with over 13,500 military and police personnel, is one of the largest but also most dangerous UN peacekeeping missions, with a heavy toll from IEDs.
In a report issued in January, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that 165 peacekeepers had been killed and 687 had been injured in hostile acts since July 2013.
Until the date of the report, the force had registered 548 IED attacks, killing 103 fatalities and injuring 638 MINUSMA troops.
Frustration among the Malian military over the government's failure to rein in the insurgency led to a coup in August 2020 against the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
As relations with France, the country's traditional ally, deteriorated, the junta forged tighter links with the Kremlin, bringing in Russian paramilitaries and weaponry.
In 2022, France evacuated its last troops from Mali as part of its long-running Barkhane anti-jihadist campaign in the Sahel.
The Bamako junta frequently asserts that it has gained the upper hand against the jihadists since shifting its focus to Russia.
It objected on Monday after European Council President Charles Michel declared last week that the Malian state was "collapsing" and that terrorists were gaining power.
In 2012, the jihadist insurgency began alongside a rebellion by ethnic Tuaregs seeking self-rule in the country's north.
France dispatched soldiers to quell the uprising, but the jihadists regrouped and advanced into the country's heart in 2015.
They then launched deadly assaults into neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
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