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UN: Assailants attack UN convoy, kill 2, wound 1 near Gao in north Mali

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BAMAKO, Mali — Two assailants attacked a United Nations convoy of civilian workers in northern Mali, killing two and wounding another, the peacekeeping mission said Saturday.

After stopping the convoy, "the assailants shot the two drivers before setting the vehicles on fire late Friday night," about 15 kilometers (9 miles) west of the northern city of Gao, the mission, known as MINUSMA, said in a statement. One team member was shot and wounded, but managed to escape with others, it said.

This attack comes days after an attack on the U.N. peacekeeping base in the same region as Gao, which killed three people and wounded 16.

A group formed by the elusive Algerian Islamic extremist leader Moktar Belmoktar claimed responsibility for that attack, according to the SITE Intelligence group. Al Mourabitoun, or The Sentinels, is a northern Mali jihadi group allied with al-Qaida. Mauritanian news website Al-Akhbar, which often receives messages from Malian extremists, said it obtained an audio recording from the group's spokesman.

The renewed violence comes as peace talks started again in Algeria between the Malian government and various armed groups which are active in northern Mali. 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 and the pace of their violence has accelerated in recent months.

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