UN pays tribute to fallen Mali peacekeepers

2016-02-17 20:07
Minusma emblem.

Minusma emblem.

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Bamako - The UN's mission chief in Mali paid tribute on Wednesday to seven Guinean peacekeepers killed in a jihadist attack on their base last week, including the first woman to die as part of their deployment.

The assault on the camp belonging to the UN force, known by the acronym MINUSMA, took place on Friday in the northeastern town of Kidal and was claimed by Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine.

The ceremony was "the first time that we lament the death of a sister", said mission chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif, adding that two other women were wounded during the attack.

Seven bodies draped with the UN flag were displayed during the tribute, awaiting repatriation to Guinea on Wednesday accompanied by Annadif, a first for such a high-level UN figure.

"Their sacrifices once again reinforce our quest for a definitive peace," Annadif added.

"Every effort must be made to face up to terrorism, the enemy of peace," he added.

A previous toll had said three women were among the dead. Guinean Colonel Mamadou Alimou Diakite also confirmed Thursday just one woman was killed and two others wounded.

The MINUSMA mission, launched in July 2013, has been the most deadly for the UN since a deployment to Somalia during the civil war between 1993 and 1995.

Mali's vast northern stretches continue to be beset by violence having fallen under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.

The Islamists sidelined the Tuareg to take sole control, and although they were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013, extremist groups still pose a threat.

Mali has since concluded a landmark peace agreement between the government and Tuareg-led rebels who have launched several uprisings since the 1960s.

But jihadist violence has intensified on the ground and the management of the transition to peace has been criticised by the international community.

Read more on:    un  |  ansar dine  |  minusma  |  mali  |  west africa

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