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UN reinforces Mali mission with 2,500 more troops

The UN Security Council has decided to increase the number of peacekeepers in Mali. The mission will help with a fragile peace process and counter-terrorism operations.

The 15-member UN Security Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to increase the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali by some 2,500 troops in a bid to bolster a fragile peace accord and counter Islamist militants.

The French resolution will bring the international presence from 11,240 to 13,289 UN peacekeepers and also raise the number of police officers from 1,440 to 1,920 personnel.

The resolution authorizes UN forces to "take all necessary means" to fulfill its mandate to support a peace accord in northern Mali that French Ambassador Francois Delattre said was "confronted with a resilient terrorist threat" from groups tied to Al-Qaeda and jihadists.

He added "highly-specialized European contingents in terms of special forces, in terms of intelligence" will aid the mission. Germany is set to up its contingent to 650 troops to provide reconnaissance and transport planes.

Mali descended into a spiral of instability in early 2012, when ethnic Tuareg rebels look advantage of a power vacuum left by a military coup in the capital Bamako to take over northern Mali in a bid for independence.

Mali Deutschland Ausbildungsmission der Bundeswehr in Koulikoro

The German military also has a training mission for Malian forces in southern Mali.

But the rebellion for Tuareg autonomy was quickly highjacked by Islamist militants, including al-Qaeda aligned groups, who were strengthen by a flood of arms and instability following the international intervention that helped oust Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi.

The jihadist advances led former colonial power France to intervene in January 2013 and largely push back jihadists. The UN then deployed a peacekeeping mission in July 2013 to help advance a peace process between the Mali government and Tuareg rebels, which have also fought against the jihadists.

France also has a larger counterterrorism force in Mali and the Sahel composed of some 3,000 elite troops that can provide support to the UN mission.

Al-Qaeda aligned groups, which are not a party to the peace accords, continue to carry out attacks on UN forces, making the mission the most dangerous for the blue helmets. According to the UN, 101 peacekeepers have been killed since the mission deployed.

Al-Qaeda affiliated militants in the past year have carried out a number of prominent terrorist attacks, including on a resort in Ivory Coast and hotels in Bamako and Burkina Faso.

Watch video 02:29

German, French foreign ministers visit Mali

cw/kl (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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