Six Malian soldiers were killed on Friday in a raid in the centre of the war-torn Sahel state, in a violent day which also saw 15 United Nations peacekeepers wounded in a car-bomb attack further north. The UN said on Twitter that an evacuation was under way after a car bomb struck a temporary base near Tarkint, in the lawless north of Mali. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said 12 of the peacekeepers were German and that three were seriously injured. Two of the three were in a stable condition, she said in a statement, while one has undergone surgery. All of the wounded have been evacuated by helicopter, Kramp-Karrenbauer added. One Belgian soldier was also injured in the attack, according to a Belgian defence ministry statement. About 13,000 troops from several nations are deployed in the UN’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission across the vast semi-arid country. Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012 and which has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives. Despite the presence of thousands of French and UN troops, the conflict has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. A security official, who declined to be identified, told AFP that the MINUSMA forward operating base attacked on Friday was only set up the previous day, after a land mine damaged a UN vehicle in the area. The peacekeepers set up the base in order to remove the damaged vehicle, the security official said. Separately on Friday, militants also attacked a Malian military outpost in the village of Boni in the centre of the country, killing six soldiers and injuring another. Mali’s army stated on Twitter that the troops had “vigorously responded” to “simultaneous attacks” launched in Boni in the afternoon. Ten Malian soldiers had been killed in a similar ambush in Boni in February. Central Mali — which is the epicentre of the conflict in the Sahel — also saw six French soldiers and four civilians wounded on Monday when a car bomb detonated near a French armoured car. Former colonial power France, which intervened in Mali in 2013 to beat back the jihadists, currently has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the Sahel region. But French President Emmanuel Macron announced earlier this month that he would wind down the Barkhane force. France plans to refocus its energies on strengthening an international task force of special forces in Mali, known as Takuba. Several hundred people gathered in Mali’s capital Bamako on Friday to demand the departure of French forces from the country, an AFP journalist reported.