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Mali: 15 UN peacekeepers injured as rebels target convoy

November 4, 2023

This is the fourth such incident involving an IED since the convoy's departure from the UN base in Kidal on Tuesday. Mali's government has refused to authorize flight support for the convoy.

A UN armored vehicle
The attacks occurred as a UN convoy was traveling southImage: Amaury Hauchard/AFP/Getty Images

Rebel attacks in Mali injured 15 United Nations peacekeepers, the UN said on Friday.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said seven peacekeepers traveling in a convoy were injured in an attack on Friday, following an attack on Wednesday that injured eight. In both attacks, the peacekeepers' vehicles hit improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Friday's explosion marked the fourth such incident involving an IED since the convoy's departure from the UN base in Kidal on Tuesday, according to Dujarric.

UN convoy traveling without air support

The attacks occurred as a UN convoy was traveling south following the peacekeepers' mandate to withdraw from Mali after the junta, having ousted the president in 2021, demanded the near 15,000-strong UN force leave in June.

Peacekeepers from the mission, known as MINUSMA, left their camp in a long convoy of dozens of vehicles bound for Gao, a major northern city some 350 kilometers (220 miles) away.

The situation has been compounded by the Malian government's refusal to allow flight support for the convoy, leaving them vulnerable while navigating some of West Africa's most dangerous territories.

The UN Security Council plans to complete the hasty withdrawal under increased security threats by December 31.

Since its inception in 2013, MINUSMA has been one of the deadliest UN peacekeeping missions globally, having lost over 300 personnel.

Why can't Mali's army secure its nation?

UN destroys sensitive equipment before leaving

Before the final exit from their base in Kidal, the UN forces destroyed sensitive equipment to prevent it from being seized by insurgents stationed nearby.

Mission spokesperson Fatoumata Sinkoun Kaba told Reuters news agency that peacekeepers destroyed equipment worth millions of dollars.

Only a little after their departure, ethnic Tuareg rebels claimed control over the base.

Evidence of looting was uploaded on social media, showing locals taking items such as tires, cables, and chairs.

Experts have expressed concern over the potential for a total collapse of the Malian state, which could exacerbate instability in a region already under threat from groups connected to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

ss/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)