Al-Qaida's North African branch has claimed attacks in northern Mali that killed a Chinese U.N. peacekeeper and three civilians, the U.S.-based monitoring group SITE said Wednesday.
The attacks on Tuesday come days after five U.N. peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in central Mali, as concern grows over the future of the U.N.'s deadliest active mission.
"Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) reported that its al-Murabitoun battalion engaged in a clash with 'Crusader occupation forces'," referring to the U.N. mission in Mali, SITE said, adding that the jihadists called it an "epic battle".
AQIM said in a statement its fighters were "thrashing" the enemy.
Al-Murabitoun, led by one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, has claimed responsibility for several spectacular and bloody attacks in sub-Saharan Africa.
One attack on a U.N. camp in the northern town of Gao on Tuesday killed a peacekeeper and seriously wounded three others, while a second armed attack on a U.N. de-mining unit killed two security guards and an international expert, the U.N. mission known by the acronym MINUSMA said.
At least 65 peacekeepers with the mission have been killed while on active service, while another four have died in "friendly fire" incidents, U.N. figures show.
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