AfricaTerrorism

Eight UN Peacekeepers Wounded in Mali Blast

Eight UN peacekeepers were wounded Thursday in a mine explosion in Mali’s jihadist-wracked Timbuktu region, the United Nations said.

They were part of the Burkinabe contingent of the MINUSMA peacekeeping force, a UN official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Spokesman Olivier Salgado said on Twitter that the attack took place near Ber, in the Timbuktu region, and that the eight soldiers had been evacuated.

Four peacekeepers have been killed so far this month in suspected jihadist attacks in northern and central Mali.

The jihadists often use improvised explosive devices against UN and Malian forces.

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

It says 175 of its troops have died from hostile acts.

Negotiations are currently underway to renew its mandate.

A recent report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the Timbuktu region has seen “relative calm” in recent months, while the center of the country continued to experience high levels of violence, and the so-called three-border region with Niger and Burkina Faso had seen a “significant deterioration” in security.

Last weekend, Mali suffered one of its worst civilian massacres, the latest in an ongoing series of mass killings across the Sahel.

The government said jihadists killed 132 civilians in Diallassagou and two surrounding towns in central Mali.

Mali has since 2012 been rocked by an insurgency by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State group.

Violence that began in the north has spread to the center and neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Inter-communal and criminal violence is also common.

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