السبت , يونيو 6 2020

Suicide blast at UN base in Mali

A UN soldier in Mali pictured in July 2013

More than 9,000 UN troops are currently deployed in Mali

A suicide attack on a UN base in northern Mali has killed three civilians and wounded nine peacekeepers, the UN has said.

The bomber attempted to drive into a UN camp in Ansongo town when his explosives detonated, it added.

At least 35 UN troops have been killed and more than 140 wounded in Mali since July 2013.

The UN took charge of security after French-led forces seized northern cities from Islamist militants.

The al-Qaeda-linked militants fled into the vast Sahara desert, and have since carried out suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks on UN troops.

Secular Tuareg rebels had initially been allied with the Islamists, but the two groups later fell out.

‘Cowardly’

Caravan departs Timbuktu, Mali, at dusk - 2006

Communities in the north, especially the Tuaregs, have long complained of being marginalised

The UN’s chief in Mali, Mongi Hamdi, condemned the attack as “cowardly and odious,” the AFP news agency reports.

“I am shocked that valiant peacekeepers are again being targeted, as well as innocent civilians. This attack will not deter Minusma [the UN peacekeeping force] from its mission of restoring peace and security in Mali,” he was quoted as saying.

The peacekeepers, from Niger, were seriously wounded, UN spokesman Olivier Salgado said, Reuters reports.

Northern Mali has been a flashpoint of conflict since Mali’s independence from France in 1960, with Tuareg rebels campaigning for independence or more autonomy.

The emergence of jihadist groups in recent years has made the conflict even more complex.

The 9,000-strong UN force took over peacekeeping operations in July 2013.

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