Three peacekeepers killed in northern Mali attack: UN

2017-06-09 20:02
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Bamako - Three United Nations peacekeepers were killed and eight others wounded when they came under sustained attack in Kidal in Mali's troubled north, the UN said on Friday.

The UN mission in Mali, MINUSMA, began work in 2013, providing security and assisting Malian troops struggling to keep the country safe. It has been targeted constantly by jihadists, with dozens of peacekeepers killed.

On Thursday the UN camp "came under heavy rocket/mortar fire" and "a little later a position nearby was attacked" outside their base, the UN mission said in a statement.

The three peacekeepers were killed in the second incident.

The attack is just the latest to target the 12 000-strong force in the west African nation. Guinean and Chadian soldiers make up the majority of soldiers at the Kidal camp.

The UN mission said it "condemned in the strongest terms these cowardly attacks against its personnel and the danger they cause for the civilian population."

The attackers should be identified and tried as quickly as possible, the statement added.

Northern Mali fell to jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in March 2012, and although these forces were driven out of key towns by a French-led military intervention the following year, the Islamists have now spread further south.

Since 2015, jihadists have targeted Mali's centre and their activities have spilled over into neighbouring countries including Niger and Burkina Faso.

Their last attack killed two peacekeepers on May 23 near Aguelhok, near the border with Algeria, while a Liberian peacekeeper was killed earlier in May close to Timbuktu.

Both attacks were claimed by a powerful jihadist alliance, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a fusion of three Malian jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links.

France on Tuesday asked the UN Security Council to authorise the deployment of a five-nation African military force to fight jihadists in the Sahel region, with its base in Mali.

The force will be under a separate command from MINUSMA and France's own counter-terror force in the Sahel region, but will be backed by the UN and European Union.

Read more on:    mali  |  west africa

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