Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Nigerien blue helmet killed by militants in Mali


A peacekeeper from Niger was on Friday shot dead by militants in northern Mali, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said, the latest in a spate of deadly attacks on blue helmets in the country.

“Today at 7:00pm, two unidentified gunmen opened fire on a MINUSMA vehicle in Gao City,” the mission said in the statement, adding that the peacekeeper died on the way to hospital in Gao, the main city in northern Mali.

Mali is one of the most dangerous UN missions, with more than 150 peacekeepers killed since 2013. Of those killed, 102 died due to hostile acts by militants.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Mali Mahamat Saleh Annadif said he was “outraged that once again peacekeepers are being attacked.”

The mission has a 12,500-strong force in the country, backed by a further 4,000 French troops who are on an anti-militant mission.

The attack in Gao came one day after two UN peacekeepers from Chad were killed and 10 more wounded during a mortar attack on their camp in Aguelhok, northeastern Mali.

Last month, four UN peacekeepers were killed when a mine exploded under their vehicle in central Mali. Six Malian soldiers were killed a week earlier in another mine attack on their convoy.

Once a beacon of democracy and stability in Africa, Mali has been undermined by a coup, civil war and Muslim militant terrorism.

Extremists linked to al-Qaeda took control of Mali’s desert north in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.

In June 2015, the Malian government signed a peace agreement with some armed groups, but the militants remain active and large tracts of the country are lawless.

The UN Security Council is due to hold a session on Wednesday to discuss Muslim militant violence in Mali and the wider Sahel region.

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