UN peacekeeper, Mali soldier dead after gunmen attack UN base

Bamako (AFP) - Gunmen attacked a UN base in central Mali on Monday, killing a UN peacekeeper and a Malian soldier, the United Nations said, denouncing a "revolting terrorist attack".

The soldiers were killed during an attack in Douentza, in the Mopti region, according to a statement from the UN mission in the country, known by the acronym MINUSMA.

Another peacekeeper was wounded but not seriously, the statement said.

A group of attackers "fired at a MINUSMA camp from an adjacent hill," with the Malian armed forces returning fire, according to the statement.

A second group of attackers shot at peacekeepers in a neighbouring camp, who also returned fire, killing two of the assailants.

The UN mission called it a "terrorist attack" and said it would not stop its "support of Mali and its people in order to contribute to the achievement of lasting peace and stability."

A Malian military source, confirming the attack, said reinforcements had been sent to bolster security in the town, he added.

Last week, UN peacekeepers accused former rebel fighters and a rival pro-government militia in the north of the country of having used child soldiers in recent clashes.

On Friday, nine child soldiers aged 15 to 17 were handed over to UN peacekeepers in the northern city of Kidal.

In 2012, key cities in northern Mali fell under the control of jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda, who exploited an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising.

Although the Islamists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation, attacks have continued on UN and French forces, civilians and the Malian army.