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Bomb kills two UN peacekeepers in central Mali

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Two UN peacekeepers were killed and two others injured on Friday after an improvised bomb exploded in central Mali, a spokesman for the MINUSMA mission tweeted.

The soldiers were part of the Egyptian contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission, a security official said.

"The head of MINUSMA condemned the attack," spokesman Olivier Salgado posted.

He said the incident took place near the town of Douentza, on the road to Timbuktu.

On Wednesday, a Jordanian blue helmet was killed in an attack on his convoy in Kidal, in northern Mali.

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"A hard, hard week for us. We cannot say enough about the difficulty of our task and the extreme dedication of our peacekeepers," tweeted MINUSMA chief El-Ghassim Wane.

In what is yet again another cowardly attack against our peacekeepers, 2 brave Blue helmets from Egypt lost their lives today while #ServingForPeace with @UN_MINUSMA. These crimes are a blatant violation of international humanitarian law & shall not go unpunished. @EgyptPRNewYork

— Jean-Pierre Lacroix (@Lacroix_UN) June 3, 2022

With 13,000 members, MINUSMA — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali — is one of the UN's biggest peacekeeping operations, and also one of its most dangerous.

It says 174 troops have died from hostile acts.

"This is the sixth incident in which a UN peacekeeping convoy was hit since May 22," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York, condemning the latest attack.

But despite the difficulties the UN peacekeepers are continuing their work in accordance with their Security Council mandate, he added, citing MINUSMA's involvement in the recent restoration of two bridges destroyed in the same region.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are a weapon of choice for jihadists against MINUSMA and Malian forces. They also kill many civilians.

Hotbed of violence

On Friday, the Egyptian peacekeepers were in an escort of a dozen UN vehicles accompanying a convoy of civilian trucks carrying fuel, Salgado said.

Such convoys can stretch for miles.

A mine exploded as the convoy passed, Salgado said.

Mines can be detonated on contact or remotely.

Central Mali is a hotbed of violence and jihadist activity that has spread from the north to the centre of the country, and on to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of civilians and combatants have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

🇲🇱 FRANCE 24 received an #EXCLUSIVE report on the state of UN peacekeeping in #Mali, set to be submitted to the UN Security Council.

What's in the 25-page long report?@SimNasr explains that MINUSMA is asking for a renewal of its mandate and for more forces in the region ⤵️

— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) June 3, 2022

Two reports published this week — one from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and another from the human rights division of MINUSMA — expressed alarm at the intensification of the violence in central Mali.

Meanwhile a Mali-based coalition of Al-Qaeda aligned militants has claimed responsibility for an attack in Togo last month, the SITE Intelligence monitoring group said Friday.

The Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) has been threatening northern parts of coastal Benin, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo.

Togo's government had confirmed a "terrorist attack" on May 11 in the northern town of Kpekankandi, near the border with Burkina Faso, where the insurgents are also present.

Officials had said eight Togolese soldiers died and 13 others were wounded.


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