UN peacekeepers die as result of Malian roadside bomb

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Seven United Nations workers died and three more were injured Wednesday when a convoy in which they were traveling struck an improvised explosive device in Mali. 

As first reported by Reuters, the group was traveling between the towns of Douentza and Sevare in Central Mali, an area in which both al Qaeda and the Islamic State have a strong presence. 

According to a statement from a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the peacekeepers were from the nation of Togo, which like Mali is located in West Africa, and were operating as a part of the U.N.’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA.

“The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the bereaved families, as well as to the Government and people of Togo,” the spokesman said. “He wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.  The Secretary-General recalls that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law.  He calls on the Malian authorities to spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of these attacks so that they can be swiftly brought to justice.”

Mali has suffered from intense fighting and destabilization since 2012. 

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan thinktank, Mali’s issues stem from a 2012 coup during which soldiers ousted then-President Amadou Toumani Touré for his handling of what became known as the Tuareg Rebellion, so named after the ethic group that sought independence from Mali. 

In the years since, the nation has devolved into a land of violence, poverty, and corruption as various armed factions, some of which are directly connected to Islamic terrorist groups, fight for control of the country. 

“The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations continued support to, and solidarity with, the people and Government of Mali, including through enhancing the capacity of MINUSMA to protect civilians in central Mali and supporting a Government-led strategy to stabilize that region,” the spokesman said. 

The United Nations first sent peacekeepers into Mali in 2013, but results to date have been discouraging. Mali experienced another coup in 2020 and now faces what the CFR refers to as “an alarming rise in violent extremism.” 

Human Rights Watch has recently revealed politically motivated executions and disappearances are on the rise among all sides. 

As of October 2021, the U.N. has deployed more than 16,000 personnel to Mali.