The United Nation said three Senegalese UN peacekeepers were killed on Tuesday when their convoy hit a roadside bomb in jihadist-torn central Mali, in a new blow to the long-running operation.
“A MINUSMA Force convoy hit an Improvised Explosive Device #IED today,” it said in a tweet, with three people killed and five seriously injured. The incident occurred near the village of Songobia, 29 kilometres southwest of Bandiagara, while their supply convoy was on its way to its base in Sévaré.
While reaffirming MINUSMA’s commitment to working for peace in Mali, Mr Wane reminded the international community that attacks on peacekeepers can be considered war crimes under international law. He stressed the need to do everything possible to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of hostile acts against MINUSMA.
“I condemn this attack and offer my deepest condolences to the families and brothers-in-arms of the deceased peacekeepers,” MINUSMA Head of Mission El-Ghassim Wane said. “This is another tragic illustration of the complexity of our operational environment and the sacrifices made by the international community for peace in Mali,” he continued.
Mali is fighting an 11-year-old insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
MINUSMA, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, was established in 2013. With over 13,500 military and police personnel, it is one of the largest but also most dangerous UN peacekeeping missions, with a high toll from IEDs.
In a report issued in January, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that 165 peacekeepers had died and 687 had been injured in hostile acts since July 2013. Up to the date of the report, the force had recorded 548 IED attacks, claiming 103 lives and injuring 638 MINUSMA personnel.
He cited obstacles such as the country’s size, the state of its roads, and the force’s lack of a combat mandate and resources. He also mentioned the withdrawal of French soldiers and their European allies, as well as the military junta’s restrictions on the UN mission’s movements.
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