One UN peacekeeper killed, 4 wounded in north Mali mine attack

Bamako, Mali Updated: Aug 08, 2016, 03:36 AM(IST)

On Sunday, Islamist militant group Ansar Dine had claimed responsibility for a mine attack on Friday near Kidal targeting Chadian troops. (Representative image) Photograph:( AFP )

A United Nations peacekeeper was killed and four others were wounded on Sunday when their vehicle hit a mine in Mali's restive north, the UN mission (MINUSMA) said.

The attack on the vehicle, which was escorting a logistical convoy, occurred about 11 kilometres (seven miles) south of Aguelhoc in the region of Kidal, where several Islamist militant groups are active, the mission said in a statement. All five peacekeepers were from Chad, a mission spokesman said.

About two hours later, another mine exploded near a UN peacekeeping vehicle two kilometres east of the mission base in Kidal, but only caused material damage, the MINUSMA statement added. MINUSMA did not say who was responsible for the attacks.

In a statement on Sunday, Islamist militant group Ansar Dine claimed responsibility for a mine attack on Friday near Kidal targeting Chadian troops, according to SITE Intelligence Group. That explosion injured one peacekeeper, the spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Sunday.

Mali's government has not had a military presence in Kidal since clashes between the army and Tuareg rebels killed 50 soldiers there in 2014, leaving a heavy security burden on UN troops.

Mali has become the deadliest place to serve UN peacekeepers. The United Nations says more than 100 peacekeepers have been killed since MINUSMA deployed in July 2013. The UN Security Council voted in June to increase the contingent by 2,500 troops, taking the total number of uniformed personnel to more than 15,000.

In May, five Chadian peacekeepers were killed in an ambush near Kidal. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) also claimed responsibility for an attack that month that killed a Chinese peacekeeper and three civilians.

Islamist militant groups, some with links to al-Qaeda, hijacked a Tuareg uprising in 2012 and seized northern Mali until a French-led intervention drove them back a year later. But the region has remained plagued by violence despite a peace accord signed last year between Tuareg fighters and the government. Two days of fighting last month between Tuareg rebels and pro-government militia killed up to 20 people.


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