- The UN troops “retaliated firmly and sent the assailants fleeing,” the statement said.
- “Such cowardly acts will not deter the United Nations from its resolve to continue supporting the people and government of Mali in their pursuit of peace and stability.”
- No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Two United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in northern Mali after gunmen attacked their convoy. The incident was confirmed by the UN peacekeeping force in the country, who said the convoy was attacked by unidentified armed individuals. The logistics convoy was travelling between the towns of Tessalit and Gao.
The convoy had stopped, when it was attacked near the village of Tarkint, northeast of Gao. The UN mission, known as Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in a statement said that the fighters fled after a retaliatory attack from the forces. The UN troops “retaliated firmly and sent the assailants fleeing,” the statement said.
The two peacekeepers were Egyptian nationals, according to a statement released by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. He said that such attacks might constitute war crimes. “Such cowardly acts will not deter the United Nations from its resolve to continue supporting the people and government of Mali in their pursuit of peace and stability,” the statement said. The United Nations has called for an investigation into the attack.
The head of the peacekeeping mission, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, condemned the attack, calling it a cowardly act aimed at paralyzing their operations in the area. “We will have to make every effort to identify and apprehend those responsible for these terrorist acts so that they are brought to justice for their crimes,” Mahamat said in a statement.
No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, it was similar to attacks carried out by al-Qaeda linked militants in the region. Attacks on UN peacekeepers are common in the region. Last weekend, an attack on the UN mission in the northern part of the country left ten peacekeepers dead.
The attack, considered one of the deadliest by al-Qaeda linked militants at a UN camp, also left 25 other peacekeepers wounded. Last month, three UN peacekeepers in Chad UN were killed after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb. Four other soldiers were seriously wounded from the blast.
Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that has ripped through the country since it erupted in 2012. The insurgency has since claimed thousands of military and civilian lives. The UN peacekeeping mission was established in Mali in 2013, and has around 13,000 troops drawn from several nations.
The troops are deployed across the country that has been facing serious security situations. The violence in the country has since spread to its neighbors, Niger and Burkina Faso. According to UN figures, about 4,000 people were killed in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in 2019, and thousands others displaced.
The countries are members of the French-backed G5 Sahel group, a taskforce created by the region’s leaders in 2014, which aims to fight militants. The group also includes Mauritania and Chad. Despite the creation and the presence of 4,500 French soldiers, and more than 14,000 United Nations peacekeepers, as well as the national forces from the countries, the jihadist groups have stepped up their attacks.