UN peacekeeper killed in IED attack in northern Mali
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An Egyptian peacekeeper was killed and four of his colleagues were seriously injured in improvised explosive attacks against their convoy in unstable northern Mali on Saturday, the United Nations said.
Confirming the record, a spokesperson for the UN secretary general said Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attacks, which took place near Tessalit, near the Algerian border.
Guterres said the attacks could constitute war crimes and called on the Malian authorities “to spare no effort” to find those responsible.
“This incident is a sad reminder of the permanent danger hanging over our peacekeepers and the sacrifices made for peace in Mali,” said El-Ghassim Wane, who heads the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA), in a statement. previous press release.
Already grappling with a jihadist insurgency, Mali sank into political turmoil when a military coup in August 2020 installed an interim civilian government before being toppled in a second putsch less than a year older. late.
Deployed in Mali since 2013, MINUSMA is currently the deadliest United Nations peace mission in the world, with 145 dead in acts of hostility recorded as of August 31, according to UN statistics.
The current force comprises more than 12,000 troops.
In April, four Chadian MINUSMA peacekeepers were killed in a jihadist attack on their camp in Aguelhok, also in northeastern Mali.
The latest violence comes amid uncertainty over the future of foreign military forces in the country.
– Controversy over the Russian firm –
Mali’s new army-dominated government took delivery of four Russian military helicopters on Saturday as it considered hiring mercenaries from a private Russian security company.
The Wagner group is seen as close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Western countries accuse him of acting on behalf of Moscow.
European countries warned Bamako against involvement in the group on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week.
The new regime is reportedly in the process of hiring 1,000 paramilitaries from Wagner, a move viewed with great concern in particular by the former colonial power, France, which currently maintains a 5,000-man counterterrorism mission in Mali.
It was the French military intervention in 2013 that made it possible to defeat a jihadist insurgency there.
But Paris should reduce the size of its troops in the Sahel to 2,500 or 3,000 by 2023.
He wants to reorganize his presence around a tighter unit centered on targeted strikes against jihadist leaders and on support for local armies.
At the UN last month, Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga reacted to the decision by accusing France of abandoning his country. Bamako was justified in its desire to “seek other partners” to strengthen security, he added.
French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the comments as “inadmissible” in the same week that another soldier died in Mali, the 52nd soldier lost there since 2013.
© 2021 AFP