AP – Two United Nations (UN) peacekeepers were killed on Friday when their armoured personnel carrier hit an improvised explosive device in central Mali in the sixth incident in less than two weeks targetting the UN mission in the West African nation that has faced a decade-long extremist insurgency.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the device that killed the Egyptian peacekeepers and wounded one other was planted on a road outside the town of Douentza in the Mopti region.
Their APC was escorting a civilian convoy and was on its way from Douentza to Timbuktu when it hit the device, he said.
“The intent is to disrupt the lives of the Malian people, to disrupt transport, to disrupt security,” Dujarric said. “These roads are used by civilians, civilian trucks, civilian buses, but also by the security forces, whether it’s the Malian army or UN peacekeepers… (who) have been victims over and over again of improvised explosive devices.”
It was the sixth incident in which a UN peacekeeping mission convoy was hit since May 22 and the second fatal attack on a convoy this week, Dujarric said.
A UN peacekeeping convoy was attacked by suspected terrorists in the northern Kidal region on Wednesday and a Jordanian peacekeeper was killed and three other Jordanians were wounded.
The UN spokesman said the supply convoy came under sustained fire for about an hour from attackers who used small arms and rocket launchers.
Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted a coup. The power vacuum that resulted ultimately led to an insurgency and a French-led war that ousted the extremists from power in 2013.
Mali’s current ruling junta seized power in August 2020, and in April the junta leaders said a transition to civilian, democratic rule would take at least two years.
The head of the UN mission in Mali El Ghassim Wane condemned Friday’s attack on the UN convoy, saying such attacks can constitute war crimes.
He also condemned an attack on Wednesday near Kayes in western Mali by gunmen riding motorcycles against a vehicle marked with the Red Cross emblem that killed a worker for the Dutch Red Cross and the car’s driver.