Seven people were killed when armed men attacked the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) headquarters in Timbuktu on Monday, according to a MINUSMA statement.
Five MINUSMA security guards, one member of the Mali National Police and one civilian contractor working for MINUSMA were killed during the attack. A Malian security guard and six peacekeepers were also wounded in the incident.
MINUSMA says they "responded immediately by deploying a rapid reaction force to secure the Mission's headquarters and attack helicopters to track down potential attackers."
Six assailants were killed in the attack, according to the statement.
A separate attack took place against MINUSMA in Douenza, around 130 miles south of Timbuktu on Monday, killing one peacekeeper and one Malian national soldier, according to the agency.
No claims of responsibility have been made, and no concrete link between the two attacks has yet been established.
The UN secretary-general's office released a statement condemning the attacks, saying that "attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law."
"The Secretary-General commends the important efforts that Mali and the other countries of the Group of Five for the Sahel are devoting in combating terrorism and violent extremism and promoting peace and development in the region," the statement added, referring to the joint force comprised of five nations of Africa's restive Sahel region -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The force was created to tackle the threat of terrorism and transnational organized crime.
Mali has been wracked by violence in recent years, including an insurgency by Islamist and ethnic Tuareg groups that prompted French forces to intervene in the country in 2013. The United Nations established its peacekeeping mission in Mali that year.
Mali, and in particular the Timbuktu region, is one of the world's deadliest postings for UN peacekeepers. In 2015 six UN troops were killed
and five others injured in an attack on their convoy in the Timbuktu region.
Last year militants attacked a sparsely manned UN police base
in the Malian city and held it before UN and Malian forces retook it.