China says U.N. peacekeeper killed in attack in Mali

BEIJING (Reuters) - One Chinese United Nations peacekeeper has been killed, and four injured, after an attack in Mali, China's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday, calling for an investigation into the incident to bring the perpetrators to justice. Soldiers of a United Nations peacekeeping mission have been stationed in northern Mali, along with French forces, for three years since separatists joined jihadists to seize the region from the government in Bamako. The militants have staged several high profile attacks in the past year, not only in Mali but also in neighboring Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. A peace accord signed last year was meant to bring stability to the region, but attacks against the U.N. mission, Malian military and civilians are still frequent. In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China urged the Mali government and the United Nations to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. "This is a grave and intolerable crime. China strongly condemns it," Hua told a daily news briefing, describing the incident as a terrorist attack on the U.N. peacekeeping mission. She did not say who China thought was behind the attack. China now has more than 2,400 peacekeepers in Mali and other African countries, she said, adding that the country would continue to positively contribute to U.N. peacekeeping missions to help ensure peace and stability in Africa. China will contribute a tenth of the budget for U.N. peacekeeping operations between 2016 and 2018, slightly behind the United States, the U.N.'s peacekeeping chief told the country's official Xinhua news agency on Sunday. Five U.N. peacekeepers from Togo were also killed and one person was seriously injured in an ambush in central Mali on Sunday. (Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)