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Gunmen attack UN bases in Mali

August 15, 2017

An early-morning attack on a UN base in the central region was followed by another hours later in northwestern Mali. The assaults confirmed the West African state as the world's deadliest active UN deployment.

UN Mission MINUSMA in Mali
Image: Getty Images/A. Koerner

On Monday night, reinforcements were deployed to both UN bases which had been attacked and in the city of Timbuktu itself.

A UN peacekeeper and a Malian soldier were killed in the early-morning attack in Douentza in the central region of Mopti on Monday. Another peacekeeper was slightly wounded.

Hours later, six men with guns and grenades drove up to the UN mission camp in Timbuktu in the north west of the country and opened fire on the Malian UN security guards. Five of the guards were killed together with a policeman and a civilian contractor.

TimbuktuImage: picture-alliance/chromorange/E. Weingartner

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said that peacekeepers managed to kill six assailants after the attack, using a helicopter to track them down. Two suspected gunmen were killed in Douentza.

UN Special Representative for Mali Mahamat Saleh Saleh Annadif issued a statement saying: "I don't have enough words to condemn this cowardly and ignoble act a few hours after the terrorist attack we endured in Douentza."  

"We must combine all our efforts in order to identify and apprehend those responsible for these terrorist acts so that they can answer to their crimes in court," Annadif added.

Deadly terrain

The peacekeeping mission in Mali has become the deadliest of the UN's 16 active global peacekeeping operations; this attack was one of the worst losses of mission staff, and new funds are being made available to support troops stationed there.

Jihadists belonging to the so-called Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) group continue to carry out suicide attacks and other assaults. There have been reports of extrajudicial executions and mass graves.

Ceremonies for the two German soldiers killed in Mali in July 2017
Two German soldiers were killed in July 2017 when their helicopter crashed in MaliImage: Picture-alliance/dpa/M. Dorow

Since a French-led military intervention following a military coup in 2012, Mali has been in a constant state of instability, with Islamists carrying out attacks on UN and French forces, civilians and the Malian army.

There are more than 15,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali in a mission which began in 2013. Some 875 German soldiers are stationed in the northeastern town of Gao.

Last month, a Tiger helicopter carrying two Bundeswehr soldiers crashed during a surveillance flight about 70 kilometers (43 miles) northeast of Gao. An investigation in to the case continues.

Two German peacekeepers killed in Mali

ss/jm (AP, dpa)