BFF-56 28 peacekeepers wounded in Mali attack: UN





28 peacekeepers wounded in Mali attack: UN

BAMAKO, Feb 10, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – Twenty-eight United Nations
peacekeepers were wounded in an attack on their base in central Mali
on Wednesday, a UN spokesperson said, in the latest violence to hit
the Sahel state.

Unidentified militants attacked a temporary base near Kerena, a
village in the war-torn centre of country, at around 7 am.

Olivier Salgado, the spokesman for the UN’s MINUSMA mission in
Mali, said the position was “targeted by direct and indirect fire.”

First established in 2013, the 13,000-strong MINUSMA has suffered
one of the highest death tolls of any mission in UN peacekeeping

Over 230 of its personnel have died since the mission began, and
improvised explosive devices killed five peacekeepers last month

The latest casualties were from a Togolese contingent of
peacekeepers in Mali, according to the UN.

An official briefed on the attack, who requested anonymity, said
that some of the peacekeepers were gravely wounded.

A municipal government official, who declined to be named, also
told AFP that militants drove an explosives-laden vehicle into the
camp before opening fire.

Mali has been struggling to contain a jihadist insurgency which
first emerged in the north of the country in 2012, and has since
spread to the centre of the country and to neighbouring Burkina Faso
and Niger.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds
of thousands more have had to flee their homes.

Four peacekeepers were killed by a roadside bomb in northern Mali
on January 14, and one died the following day in a similar blast.

– Cycle of violence –

Central Mali is an epicentre of the Sahel conflict where assaults
on soldiers and ethnic killings are common.

Ten Malian troops were killed in the same area last week when
Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists raided their camp.

The attack on the UN base comes ahead of several important
political summits dedicated to curbing the Sahel conflict.

France and the G5 Sahel — a military alliance comprising Burkina
Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Niger and Mali — are due to meet in Chad on
February 15 and 16.

Signatories of the shaky Algiers peace accord are also due to meet
in the northern Malian town of Kidal on Thursday.

Mali’s government and several armed groups signed that agreement in
2015. Among other things, it provides for decentralising governance in
the vast and ethnically-diverse nation of 19 million people.

Although the implementation of the Algiers accord has been
extremely slow, the deal is viewed as one of the few escape routes
from Mali’s cycle of violence.