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Peacekeepers attacked in Mali

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – A United Nations (UN) peacekeeping convoy was attacked by suspected terrorists in northern Mali on Wednesday and a Jordanian peacekeeper was killed and three other Jordanians were wounded, the UN said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the supply convoy was under sustained fire for about an hour from attackers who used small arms and rocket launchers.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attack and sent deepest condolences to the families of the peacekeepers and the government and people of Jordan, Dujarric said.

According to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, the attack was the fifth incident in the northern Kidal region in just one week, Dujarric said.

“It is a tragic reminder of the complexity of the mandate of the UN mission and of its peacekeepers, and the threats peacekeepers face on a daily basis,” he said.

The Security Council later released a statement condemning the attack and calling on authorities in Mali to investigate and bring those responsible to justice.

The statement added that council “underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law”.

The United Nation flag on the top of an UN building in Geneva, Switzerland. FILE PHOTO: AP

Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Extremist rebels were forced from power in Mali’s northern cities with the help of a French-led military operation, but they regrouped in the desert and began launching attacks on the Malian army and its allies. Insecurity has worsened with attacks in the northern and central regions on civilians and UN peacekeepers.

Mali’s military returned to Kidal, a longtime rebel stronghold in the north, in February 2020, six years after its forces retreated amid violence. UN peacekeepers have also been deployed in the north.

The UN force has said over 250 of its peacekeepers and personnel have died since 2013, making Mali the deadliest of the UN’s dozen peacekeeping missions worldwide.

The UN special representative for Mali, El Ghassim Wane, issued a statement on Wednesday saying the UN mission remains determined to support Mali’s people and government in their quest for peace and security, Dujarric said.

In August 2020, Malian President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita, who died in January, was overthrown in a coup that included Assimi Goita, then an army colonel.

Last June, Goita was sworn in as president of a transitional government.