An army helicopter fired six rockets near UK soldiers of the U.N peacekeeping force in Mali, prompting the U.N to start an investigation. The incident occurred in the Tessit area, near Gao city in the country’s east.
“There were no injuries or damage to UK equipment. The circumstances surrounding this incident are being investigated,” the UK’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
Last week, Richard Mills, the US deputy ambassador to the UN, criticised an “unacceptable” incident on March 22, when a Malian helicopter “fired rockets near peacekeepers in eastern Mali”.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Tuesday said an investigation into the events was under way.
A team from the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan is ready to go to Moura in central Mali as soon as the authorities allow access by air to the area, he said.
According to another diplomat, paramilitaries from the Russian company Wagner are suspected to have been involved in this incident alongside the Malian army.
France and other western nations denounced the Malian authorities’ alleged use of the Russian private security group. The Malian authorities said they do not use mercenaries.
Mali is the epicentre of an insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and spread three years later to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
Thousands of people across the region have died, and about two million have been displaced.
Attacks have been carried out by groups claiming affiliation with Al Qaeda or ISIS, but many civilian casualties have also been caused by so-called self-defence forces.
In 2013, Minusma arrived in the sub-Saharan state. According to its website, it has 16,500 people, the majority of them are army, as well as police and civilians.
According to the UN, the mission has had the greatest fatalities of any of its peacekeeping missions, with 159 dead as of October 31.
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