Two UN peacekeepers killed, 10 wounded in Mali mortar attack

Two U.N. peacekeepers were killed and 10 others wounded during an attack on their camp in northeastern Mali, the U.N.’s mission there said.

“At 18:45 the peacekeepers came under mortar fire,” Minusma said in a Thursday, April 5 statement.

“According to an initial assessment, two blue helmets were killed and 10 were wounded, some seriously, during the attack on a Minusma base in Aguelhok, Kidal region,” the statement added.

Update April 7 The peacekeepers in Aguelhok were from Chad, the U.N. said.

Mali is one of the most dangerous U.N. missions, with more than 150 peacekeepers killed since 2013.

The Minusma peacekeeping force includes 12,000 military and 1,900 police personnel from 57 U.N. partner nations, backed by a further 4,000 troops in the France-led Operation Barkhane counter-terror mission that operates across the Sahel region of west Africa. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger have established G5 Sahel joint counter-terrorism force that aims to train 5,000 troops to work alongside the other missions.

Attacks on the various missions are commonplace.

On Sunday, 30 militants were killed in a clash with French and Malian troops near Mali’s border with Niger, the French military said.

Five French soldiers were wounded in an attack on a joint U.N.-France base in Kidal on March 22, a day before Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga made a landmark visit to the town, the first since 2014 by a head of government to an area still in the hands of former rebels.

On March 1, four U.N. peacekeepers were killed when a mine exploded under their vehicle in central Mali, while six Malian soldiers were killed a week earlier in another mine attack.

Once a beacon of democracy and stability in Africa, Mali has been undermined by a coup, civil war and Islamist terrorism.

France launched an intervention to chase out extremists linked to al-Qaeda who took control of a significant area of northern Mali in 2013. The militants were largely driven out and that mission evolved into the current Operation Barkhane deployment.

In June 2015, Mali’s government signed a peace agreement with some armed groups, but the jihadists remain active, and large tracts of the country are lawless.

The US military’s Sahel exercise is fixing its gaze on ISIS and Boko Haram

With reporting from AFP

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