16 August 2014

Mali: UN Peacekeepers Killed in Northern Mali Attack

Two UN peacekeepers have been killed in a suicide attack on a base in northern Mali. The attack near Timbuktu was criticized by UN's special representative in Mali, who vowed the mission would go on.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said on Saturday that two of its soldiers had been killed in the attack.

A statement said that a vehicle exploded next to a base at Ber village, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of the desert city of Timbuktu. Five other soldiers were said to have been injured.

No official information was given about the nationalities of the soldiers, although a MINUSMA official said that both of those who died were from neighboring Burkina Faso.

Three other peacekeepers have been wounded, by mine explosions, in the past week.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed sadness about the deaths in a statement issued Saturday, with the sentiment echoed by his special representative in Mali, David Gressly.

"This violence is senseless," said Gressly. "MINUSMA is paying too high a price in Mali when its peacekeepers are here to ensure the return to peace and stability," he said. Gressly added that the violence served only to strengthen the determination of the peacekeeping mission.

France led a campaign in January 2013 to dislodge Islamist militants who had taken advantage of a Tuareg-led rebellion to assert power across northern Mali. While the al-Qaeda-linked fighters were driven back, sporadic attacks against Malian and Western targets have continued.

A UN report in June said that both Malian and MINUSMA forces were coming under increasing attack as security in the north deteriorated.

rc/av (AP, Reuters)

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