MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko The Guinean contingent of MINUSMA which is based in Kidal in the extreme north of Mali, ensures the security of the camp, conducts mine action activities and also ensures the safety of the civilian population/UN
At least ten UN peacekeepers from Chad have been killed in an attack by suspected Islamist militants in northern Mali, the UN says.
Another 25 Chadian troops were injured when the gunmen stormed the UN camp in Aguelhok early on Sunday. The attack was repelled, the UN says.
The UN mission in Mali was set up in 2013 to fight Islamist militias operating in the country. Militants have regularly attacked UN and Malian troops since then, according to BBC report.
Al-Qaeda's North-African branch, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, said it carried out the latest attack, local media report.
Large swathes of northern Mali were seized by jihadists in 2012 until they were pushed back in a French-led military operation the following year.
More than 15,000 personnel - including civilians - were later deployed as part of the UN mission, Minusma. But parts of the country are still out of the government's control.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, strongly condemned the deadly attack which killed ten peacekeepers from Chad and injured at least 25 others, according to UN media release...
“MINUSMA forces responded robustly and a number of assailants were killed,” a statement issued by his Spokesperson read.
The Secretary-General conveyed his “heartfelt condolences to the Government of Chad, and the families and loved ones of the deceased”, and wished a swift recovery to the injured, paying tribute to the dedication and courage of the men and women serving in MINUSMA “at great personal risk and sacrifice”.
A proliferation of armed groups fighting government forces and their allies in the centre and northern areas of Mali following a failed coup six years ago, have made MINUSMA the most dangerous mission to serve in as a UN ‘blue helmet’.
Mr. Guterres called on the Malian authorities, as well as the signatory armed groups to the peace agreement, to “spare no effort” in identifying the perpetrators of this attack so that they can be brought to justice as swiftly as possible.
Recalling that attacks targeting UN peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law, he reaffirmed that “such acts will not diminish the resolve of the United Nations to continue supporting the people and Government of Mali in their efforts to build peace and stability in the country.”
The head of the mission, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, strongly condemned the attack as well. “This complex and cowardly attack shows how determined terrorists are to sow chaos,” he said. “This requires a robust, immediate and coordinated response from all the forces to destroy the threat of terrorism in the Sahel.”
“Working closely with its partners, MINUSMA will remain proactive and will not let this barbaric act go unpunished,” he stated.