Three UN peacekeepers have been killed and two others wounded after their vehicle struck an explosive device in Northern Mali. The United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement said the explosion occurred at 14.30 GMT on Thursday as the vehicle escorted a ‘logistic convoy’ between Tessalit and Aguelhok. It was stated the two wounded peacekeepers were receiving treatment in the city of Kidal.
Interim Mission Chief Koen Davidse said, “I condemn in the strongest terms such abject acts, whose only objective is to destabilise the country and harm the peace process underway in Mali.” Davidse said such a deadly act could be considered as an international war crime adding that the UN mission is “determined’ to pursue all avenues to secure peace in the country.
There was no immediate responsibility claimed for the attack. However, jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS have carried out assaults in the region in the past. Earlier this month, four US Special Forces Troops were killed in neighbouring Niger by fighters believed to identify with a local Islamic State affiliate operating out of Mali. Furthermore, three peacekeepers from Bangladesh were killed as their convoy came under attack just south of Kidal in September.
Mali, in addition to its neighbouring countries Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso have all been fighting armed rebel groups in the Sahel region. Since July, a 12,000 strong UN Peacekeeping Mission has been present in Mali. Mali, particularly the Timbuktu region, is one of the world’s deadliest postings for UN peacekeepers with more than 80 peacekeepers killed since 2013. The world must recognise and condemn the violence being targeted towards peacekeepers and ensure justice is brought to those responsible. Additionally, the world must continue to provide international support to Mali and its neighbours and play an active role in establishing and securing peace in these fragile states through non-violent intervention.