3 May 2017

Liberian Peace-Keeping Officer Killed in Mali - Army Not Deterred

Photo: Photo: MINUSMA/Blagoje Grujic
The Mali mission has been a dangerous one for UN peacekeepers.

Monrovia — Liberia's Defense Minister Brownie Samukai has termed as a regrettable situation the attacking of Liberian peacekeepers in Timbuktu, Mali, killing at least one person and injuring nine others.

"I'm very sorry for what has happened; this is a very unfortunate situation of terrorist who have attack UN peacekeepers who were only providing peace and security for the people of Mali."

"It is a very regrettable situation, but then, that is not going to deter us from carrying out our duties under the United Nations Mission," Min. Samukai said.

According to him, despite the attack, Liberia would continue the mission and would rather take appropriate measures to deter and defeat attackers.

The Defense Minister told FrontPageAfrica the fallen soldier has been identified and the ministry was adopting the United Nations Protocol in informing the family.

The attack is the latest to hit the mission known as MINSUMA, stationed in the country since 2013 and considered its most dangerous active peacekeeping deployment.

"A mortar and rocket attack was launched against the MINUSMA camp in Timbuktu," a UN statement said.

"The provisional toll is nine wounded among the peacekeepers, four seriously who are being evacuated to Bamako."

"The attack also killed one person, they are still being identified," it added.

The UN mission said it had reinforced the camp's defenses and deployed air cover to identify where the enemy fire had originated, describing it as a "terrorist" attack.

Sweden's armed forces confirmed one of its soldiers was wounded, though not severely. "A Swedish soldier was lightly injured and is now being cared for by the Swedish medical unit," it said in a statement.

Liberia's armed forces, who also have peacekeepers among the mission, also confirmed "several injuries and other casualties", according to Prince Johnson, deputy chief of staff, but would not specify more.

"We are investigating the matter," he added.

Northern Mali fell to Islamist militant 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.

The 13,000-strong UN mission was deployed to provide security and assist Malian troops struggling to keep the country safe, but it has been targeted constantly by Islamist militants, with dozens of peacekeepers killed.

Three Malian Islamist militant groups with previous Al-Qaeda links recently joined forces to create the "Group to Support Islam and Muslims" (GSIM), led by Iyad Ag Ghaly of Ansar Dine, and have killed Malian soldiers further east near the Burkina Faso border.

Nine Malian soldiers were killed and five wounded Tuesday, an attack that has become near routine in the country's north and center.

The Mali peacekeeping mission is the Armed Forces of Liberia's first international mission since the end of the civil war in 2003.

The peacekeeping deployment is only the second in Liberia's history, after it sent peacekeepers to Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1960s. The Mali mission is the first since it rebuilt its army from scratch after the civil war, which was characterized by the use of child soldiers by rival warlords and rampant human rights abuses.


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