Seven UN peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion

With more than 250 fatalities since the UN mission launched in 2013, Mali is a danger zone for blue helmets

UN peacekeepers look out over the desert from a watchtower in Mali. AFP
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Seven UN peacekeepers from Togo deployed in central Mali were killed and three others seriously injured on Wednesday by an improvised explosive device, the UN mission said in a social media post.

The mission, known by the acronym Minusma, said the explosion had hit a logistics convoy travelling through the Bandiagara area as it journeyed along the roughly four-hour, 190-kilometre route from Douentza to Sevare in the centre of the country.

The UN "strongly condemns this heinous attack", spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

He also urged officials in Mali "to spare no efforts in identifying the perpetrators of the attack so they can be brought to justice".

The spokesman later said the injured peacekeepers were "stable" and receiving treatment, and that two of them were being relocated to Senegal.

A damaged armoured personnel carrier is being retrieved from the site of the attack and the results of a "post-blast investigation" would be published, he added.

Armed attacks by extremists and others are common across large parts of Mali, despite a heavy presence of international troops. Minusma has sent about 15,000 uniformed personnel to try to contain the violence.

The mission is made up of troops from Bangladesh, Egypt, Senegal and several other countries.

With more than 250 fatalities since it was launched in 2013, Minusma is the world’s most dangerous UN peacekeeping mission and perhaps the most heavily armed.

Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad have been ravaged by a prolonged insurgency carried out by militants linked to ISIS and Al Qaeda that has killed thousands and displaced about two million across the arid Sahel belt.

Militants killed at least 31 people in central Mali on Friday when they fired on a bus ferrying people to a local market, authorities said.

The UN Security Council was set to discuss its operation in Mali later on Wednesday.

Updated: December 09, 2021, 6:57 PM