The United Nations has said three Ivorian peacekeepers from the UN’s mission in Mali have been killed during an attack on a convoy near the centre of the war-torn Sahel state.

The MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in a statement said that the convoy was travelling on a road linking the central town of Douentza to the city of Timbuktu further north when one of the vehicles hit an improvised explosive device (IED).

According to the statement, gunmen then opened fire on the troops killing three soldiers and leaving six wounded.

Mali has been struggling to contain insurgency that first broke out in the north of the country before spreading to the centre, as well as to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed to date, and deadly IED attacks are common.