6 UN peacekeepers among 9 troops killed in Mali attacks | Inquirer News

6 UN peacekeepers among 9 troops killed in Mali attacks

/ 08:39 AM February 13, 2016

Mali Tuareg Refugees

In this photo taken on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, United Nation soldiers patrol in Timbuktu, Mali. Charred timbers are all that remain of a dozen Tuareg homes burned down last week in Mali’s northern city of Timbuktu by a mob angry after reports of a gun attack on Malian security forces nearby. AP Photo

BAMAKO, Mali—Six UN peacekeepers were killed and some 30 wounded on Friday when suspected Islamists attacked their base in northern Mali, officials said, while three Malian soldiers died in an ambush as jihadists intensify attacks in the restive region.

The six Guinean peacekeepers were killed in an early morning assault on a camp in the northeastern town of Kidal belonging to the United Nation’s MINUSMA, according to a Guinean source in the mission and a military source in Conakry.


The latest attacks highlighted the vulnerability of Mali’s sprawling arid north, where UN troops and Malian soldiers are struggling in their fight against jihadists who seized vast swathes of territory in 2012.


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the “massive and complex” attack on the MINUSMA base, warning that targeting peacekeepers constitutes a war crime and pledging to support the Malian government.

READ: Mali: UN must enable peacekeepers to confront terrorists

Suicide bombers drove a vehicle into the base between two rocket launches, then blew it up, the Guinean source in the UN mission said.

The raid coincided with a visit to northern Mali by the new chief of MINUSMA, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who said the raid was an “odious and irresponsible act” which highlighted the “confusion in the ranks of the enemies of peace.”

Annadif was in Kidal a week after a peace pact eased tensions in the town, where the arrival of members of a pro-government group early in February had upset the former rebels in the Coordination of Movements of the Azawad.

READ: Islamic extremists kill at least 15 Tuaregs in Mali’s north


Azawad is the name the traditionally nomadic Tuareg people of the desert use for territory they regard as their homeland, straddling the southern Sahara and the Sahel.

Timbuktu attack

In a separate attack, three Malian soldiers were killed and two others were wounded near the fabled city of Timbuktu, a Malian military source said.

“Three of our men died today between Timbuktu and Goundam when they were ambushed by jihadists,” a Malian officer told AFP. “Two others were wounded but their lives are not in danger.”

The defence ministry confirmed what it said was a “cowardly” strike.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said there was a pressing need to secure the north.

“We have to find a solution to this,” he said. “Kidal cannot remain like this… where attacks occur on a daily basis and the international community and we ourselves look on.”

Visiting German President Joachim Gauck agreed, telling a joint press conference that he was aware of the “threat still hanging over the country.”

On Thursday, a customs officer and two civilians were killed in another Islamist strike in the northern town of Hombori, two days after three Malian soldiers died in an explosion while they were patrolling the frontier near Burkina Faso.

The latest attack came a week after at least four suspected jihadists and a Malian soldier were killed in clashes at a UN camp for police officers from Nigeria in Timbuktu.

It was also a day after the fabled city had celebrated the restoration of its greatest treasures—earthen mausoleums dating to medieval times that were destroyed during an Islamist takeover in 2012.

Responsibility for the raid on Timbuktu was claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Mali’s north of the country continues to be beset by violence having fallen under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.

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The Islamists sidelined the Tuareg to take sole control, and although they were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013 extremist groups still pose a threat.

TAGS: attack, Mali, Unrest

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