At least 15 United Nations peacekeepers have been wounded in a car bomb attack in northern Mali, according to the UN, in the latest attack in the war-torn Sahel state.
The UN’s peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, said on Twitter on Friday that the wounded soldiers were evacuated following the incident earlier in the day that targeted a temporary base near Tarkint in the northeastern region of Gao.
Ce matin, une base opérationnelle temporaire de la Force de la MINUSMA près du village d’Ichagara, dans la commune de Tarkint, région de #Gao, a été la cible d’une attaque au véhicule piégé. 15 #Casquesbleus ont été blessés, leur évacuation est en cours. pic.twitter.com/l40GsrLFzd
— MINUSMA (@UN_MINUSMA) June 25, 2021
Translation: A MINUSMA Force temporary operational base near the village of Ichagara, in Tarkint commune, #Gao region, was the target of a vehicle bomb attack. 15 #Blue helmets [peacekeepers] were injured, their evacuation is in progress.
A member of the German parliament’s defence committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the AFP news agency that all the wounded were German. Twelve were seriously injured, the MP said.
A security official, who declined to be identified, told AFP that the attacked base was set up the previous day only, after a landmine damaged a UN vehicle in the area. The peacekeepers set up the temporary base in order to remove the damaged vehicle, the security official said.
The attack on Friday was swiftly condemned by El-Ghassim Wane, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Mali.
“Nothing will undermine our determination to accompany Mali in the quest for peace,” he said on Twitter.
So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
About 13,000 soldiers from several nations are deployed in the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission across the vast semi-arid country to help contain spiralling violence that continues since 2012.
MINUSMA is regarded as one of the deadliest missions in UN peacekeeping history. More than 130 of its personnel have been killed since July 2013, including six this year, according to UN statistics.
In early April, four UN peacekeepers were killed and several others wounded after fighters attacked their base in the northern town of Aguelhok.
Violence in Mali is largely the result of fighting between state forces and armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda which has sparked a serious humanitarian crisis claiming thousands of military and civilian lives.
Almost 7,000 people died in Mali due to the worsening fighting last year, according to data by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project. In late January, the UN warned the “unrelenting violence” had internally displaced more than two million people in the country, up from 490,000 at the start of 2019.
The insecurity has spread across the Sahel into Burkina Faso and Niger – which, together with Mali form the “tri-border” region – with groups exploiting the poverty of marginalised communities and inflaming tensions between ethnic groups.
Across the three countries, attacks grew fivefold between 2016 and 2020, with 4,000 people killed in the three countries last year, up from about 770 in 2016, according to the UN.
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