5 injured as UN vehicle in Mali hits landmine

2014-01-21 10:59
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Dakar - Five members of the UN mission in Mali were injured Monday when their vehicle ran over a landmine planted in the northeastern rebel bastion of Kidal, the stabilisation mission said.

"This [Monday] morning a MINUSMA (UN stabilisation mission in Mali) vehicle ran over a mine" 30km from Kidal, the statement sent via Twitter said.

"Five blue helmets were slightly injured," it added, giving no more details.

The UN peacekeepers took over security in July last year from the pan-African AFISMA military mission, which had been supporting French troops who entered Mali to push back an Islamist militant advance on the capital.

France is winding down its deployment from a peak of around 5 000 soldiers but is to keep 1 000 troops in Mali beyond the spring.

MINUSMA is made up largely of Africans but China offered in May last year to supply more than 500 troops in what is to be its biggest contribution to UN peacekeeping.

A unit of Chinese soldiers arrived in Mali last week in the troubled west African nation's rebel-infested north.

The UN mission played a key security role in presidential polls last year which saw former premier Ibrahim Boubacar Keita become the country's first democratically elected leader since a March 2012 military coup.

The UN officials have acknowledged that peacekeepers face the threat of guerrilla attacks and will encounter a number of logistical difficulties in northern Mali's harsh environment, where water is scarce and temperatures sore above 40°C.

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