At least nine dead as United Nations bases comes under attack in Mali
Gunmen attacked a United Nations peacekeeping base in the city of Timbuktu on Monday killing seven people, including five Malian security guards, a gendarme, and civilian, according to official sources. Mali's army spokesman Selon Diaran Kone affirmed the incident was now over as the assailants had been repelled and four of them killed. Also, during another violent incident, armed men opened fire on United Nations peacekeepers and Malian troops in Douentza, in central Mali.
Islamist militants frequently target the UN peacekeeping missions and more than 100 soldiers have been killed, making it one of the most dangerous mission of the organization to date.
“A first group of assailants fired at the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) camp from an adjacent hill. In reaction, the Malian armed forces, established in the vicinity of the camp, retaliated. A second group walking on foot to the other MINUSMA camp opened fire. The peacekeepers have responded and two assailants have been killed”, the spokesperson for the UN Mission added. It was stated that MINUSMA condemned in the strongest terms “this revolting terrorist attack”. The Mission reiterated its determination to continue to fulfill its responsibilities “in support of Mali and its people in order to contribute to the achievement of lasting peace and stability”.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres condemned the violence, stressing that attacks targeting UN peacekeepers "may constitute war crimes under international law". In a statement, the Security Council condemned the attacks: "the members of the Security Council reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security".
Active in Mali since 2013, MINUSMA is constantly targeted by extremists that roam northern and central part of the nation, and has also been beset by operational difficulties, including a lack of helicopters and allegations of abuse lodged by the population. In 2012, key cities in northern Mali fell under the control of extremist groups linked to Al Qaeda, who exploited an ethnic Tuareg-led rebel uprising, leading to a French-led military intervention and the eventual deployment of MINUSMA. Although the militants were largely ousted, attacks have continued towards UN and French forces, civilians, and the Malian army.
Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
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