21 January 2019

Mali: 10 UN Peacekeepers Killed in Mali Attack

Photo: MINUSMA
Peacekeepers serving with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali secure an intersection in Mopti, Mali (file photo).

An attack on the UN mission in Mali has left 10 peacekeepers dead and at least 25 injured. Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, an Islamist group with al Qaida ties, has claimed responsibility.

An al Qaida-linked Islamist group has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 10 UN peacekeepers from Chad in the north of Mali on Sunday.

In a statement posted on messaging platform Telegram, the Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen group said the attack was a response to Chadian President Idriss Deby's revival of diplomatic relations with Israel.

At least 25 others were injured in the attack on the UN camp, which was one of the deadliest attacks against MINUSMA, the UN mission in Mali.

The gunmen struck early Sunday at the Aguelhok base 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Kidal and toward the border with Algeria, according to a source close to the MINUSMA mission.

"MINUSMA forces responded robustly and a number of assailants were killed," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said without specifying the toll.

UN condemns attack

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned what he described as a "complex attack" on the camp in Aguelhok, in Kidal region and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the UN envoy for Mali, condemned what he called a "vile and criminal" attack.

"Peacekeepers of the MINUSMA force at Aguelhok fought off a sophisticated attack by assailants who arrived on several armed vehicles," he said in a statement.

The attack "illustrates the determination of the terrorists to sow chaos. It demands a robust, immediate and concerted response from all forces to destroy the peril of terrorism in the Sahel," Mahamat Saleh Annadif added.

Anti-jihadist forces resume operations

On Sunday, France's Defence Minister Florence Parly told French radio that the G5 Sahel anti-jihadist force in the region was resuming its operations.

They were suspended after an attack on their headquarters in mid-2018. The G5 force comprises contingents from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

Some 13,000 peacekeepers are deployed in Mali as part of the UN mission, which was established after Islamist militias seized the north of the country in 2012. They were pushed back by French troops in 2013.

(AFP, Reuters)

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