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UN seeks 2,500 extra peacekeepers for Mali

The United Nations has called for additional troops and police amid a worsening security situation in Mali. In May alone, Islamist attacks have killed 12 peacekeepers.

The peacekeeping mission in Mali needs more air assets and quick-reaction forces after a series of deadly attacks on its soldiers, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.

"It's clear to everyone that the security situation in parts of Mali is deteriorating," Dujarric said. "UN staff have paid for it in blood."

The recommendation by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was circulated to the Security Council on Thursday. In his report, he proposed adding 2,049 troops and 480 police to the MINUSMA mission, which is currently about 12,000 strong,

including some 660 soldiers from Germany.

"It was concluded that the current strength, capabilities and deployment ... is insufficient in the current security situation given the need for greater mobility ... and self-protection," he said.

Approval expected soon

The additional troop numbers are expected to be approved during a UN Security Council vote to extend the mandate of the mission, which is set for June 29.

Ursula von der Leyen and Bundeswehr soldiers

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited in April

The call to bolster the number of peacekeepers follows the killing of

four UN staff members on Wednesday

and 12 troops in May amid a rising number of attacks on UN peacekeepers in Mali in recent months.

Deployed in July 2013, MINUSMA has lost more than 70 soldiers over the past three years in attacks by various Islamist groups including,

al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

AQIM also claimed responsibility for the March 2015 attack on a bar that left five dead and the November assault on the Radisson Blu hotel that killed 20 people.

The UN mission is already making use of drones and other technology to protect its bases. In his report, Ban said an attack helicopter unit, armored personnel carriers and transport helicopters were needed. He also stressed the need to improve intelligence-gathering.

Mali, a resource-rich West African nation, fell into turmoil in 2012 when its northern region was overrun by Islamist insurgents. The country's former colonial power France intervened in early 2013, leading to the deployment of UN peacekeepers later that year.

mm/sms (AFP, dpa)

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