UN peacekeeper killed in IED attack on convoy in central Mali
A United Nations peacekeeper was killed and four others injured in an improvised explosive device attack on a convoy in the Mopti region of central Mali on Saturday April 20, the peacekeeping mission announced. the UN in the country.
The incident occurred in the morning when a “mine or an explosive device (IED)” hit the convoy between Douentza and Boni, MINUSMA said in a statement, adding that a Rapid Reaction Force was immediately deployed.
“The peacekeepers reacted proactively and vigorously, which neutralized and detained the attackers,” said MINUSMA Force Commander Dennis Gyllensporre.
The statement did not specify the nationality of the dead and injured, but some reports say they were Egyptian.
The spokesman for the UN secretary-general, in a later statement, confirmed that the victims were from Egypt and said one assailant had been killed and eight others apprehended.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Mali, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), claims responsible for the attack, saying militants had detonated an explosive device “against the invading forces of ‘MINUSMA'”.
In a separate space statementthe JNIM claimed that its fighters on April 17 ambushed a MINUSMA convoy between Timbuktu and Bambara-Maoudé, damaging or destroying five trucks.
JNIM was formed in 2017 through the merger of several smaller groups, including the Saharan branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine and Al-Mourabitoun. Its leaders have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“This attack shows once again that the action of MINUSMA is defeating terrorists who are desperate to derail the peace process in Mali,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Mali. and head of MINUSMA, adding that MINUSMA has considerably strengthened its operations in the central region in support of the Malian defense and security forces.
Annadif noted that attacks on peacekeepers can constitute war crimes under international law.
MINUSMA is considered one of the most dangerous UN peacekeeping missions, and Saturday’s incident brings the death toll to 17 peacekeepers this year alone.
On January 25, two Sri Lankan peacekeepers died and six were injured after their vehicle hit a mine near Douentza. The day before, a Burkinabè blue helmet had been injured by an IED on another convoy near Douentza.
The Mopti region has also seen a number of attacks against Malian forces and against the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
But attacks on peacekeepers are not limited to the restive center of Mali.
On January 20, gunmen killed 10 Chadian peacekeepers and injured at least 25 others in an attack on a UN camp in Aguelhok, about 120 km north of Kidal.
And on April 3, two peacekeepers were injured in a mortar and gun attack on a UN base in Kidal.
Recent unrest in the Sahel region began in Mali in 2012 with the Tuareg separatist uprising against the state, which was exploited by al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists who took over key towns in the desert north.
France began its Operation Serval military intervention in its former colony early the following year, driving the jihadists out of the cities, but the militant groups morphed into more nimble formations operating in rural areas, sometimes winning the local populations by providing basic services and protection against bandits. .
Large parts of Mali remain outside government control and the insurgency has gradually spread to the central and southern regions of the country and across the borders into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.
A peace deal was signed in 2015 between the government and some armed groups aimed at isolating Islamist militants, but the jihadist insurgency has shown no signs of abating.
The French mission in Mali evolved in August 2014 into the current Operation Barkhane, which has 4,500 troops deployed with a mandate for counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel region, with 2,700 soldiers in Mali to support local military forces mal equipped.
The troops deployed in Barkhane work alongside the UN MINUSMA stabilization mission in Mali, which started in 2013 and has around 12,000 soldiers and 1,750 police deployed, as well as the joint G5 Sahel counter-terrorism force which aims to train and deploy up to 5,000 people.
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This article was last updated on April 20