December 4, 2023

Bamako, Mali (AFP) – Two UN peacekeepers were killed and five others seriously injured when their vehicle hit a landmine planted by suspected militants in northern Mali on Tuesday, the United Nations said.

The deadly attack comes just days after the mandate of the United Nations mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, was renewed.

“This morning, an armored vehicle belonging to the expedition’s logistics convoy hit a mine on the Tessalit-Gau road,” the mission announced in a press release.

“According to an initial report, two peacekeepers died of their injuries and five others were seriously injured as a result of the attack,” the statement added.

“The victims are all Egyptian,” a UN official told the Associated Press, insisting on anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press until the UN informs the families.

Ten UN peacekeepers have been killed in Mali since the beginning of the year.

The mandate of the UN mission in Mali, first deployed in 2013, to assist in the fight against radical Islamist rebels was made public last week although the Malian government said it would not support the mission’s goal of promoting and protecting human rights.

Russia and China abstained on the French-drafted UN resolution, which extends the mission’s mandate until June 30, 2023, with its current ceiling of 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 international police personnel.

More than 270 peacekeepers have been killed in Mali, making it the deadliest UN peacekeeping mission, according to UN officials.

Mali is ruled by the military junta that seized power in August 2020. Colonel Asim Gueta was appointed president.

The Malian military junta has drawn close to Russia, as Moscow has sought to build alliances and gain influence in Africa. Russia’s Wagner Group has deployed a team of fighters to Mali.

Last week, a European military task force that helped the Malian government fight Islamist extremists officially withdrew from the West African country amid tensions with the ruling military junta.

The French army, which led the Takoba task force, announced that it had finished its work in Mali. The move was linked to France’s decision earlier this year to withdraw troops from Mali after nine years of helping Malian forces fight violent extremists who threatened to seize power.

The European Takoba force consisted of several hundred special forces from 10 countries: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden. It was intended to train and protect the Malian combat forces.

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