A security patrol was targeted first by an improvised explosive device and then by direct small arms fire seven kilometres (four miles) from their base in the town of Ber, in Mali, on Friday, June 9, 2023.

Iran PressAfrica: The attack ended up killing one UN peacekeeper and seriously injured eight others, all from Burkina Faso.

The attack took place in the northern Timbuktu region, an area where extremists continue to operate according to the United Nations.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric declared the United Nations is joining the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, El-Ghassim Wane, in strongly condemning the attack. As for the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he called on Mali's transitional authorities to identify the perpetrators of the attack and bring them to justice swiftly, noting that "attacks targeting UN peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law," Dujarric added.

Mali has been ruled by a military junta since a 2020 coup against an elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. It has faced destabilizing attacks by armed extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group since 2013. In 2021, France and its European partners engaged in the fight against extremists in Mali’s north withdrew from the country after the junta brought in mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group.

According to Le Monde, the United States warned Mali’s military government in April that it would be "irresponsible" for the United Nations to continue deploying its more than 15,000 peacekeepers unless the Western African nation ends restrictions, including on operating reconnaissance drones, and carries out political commitments toward peace and elections in March 2024.

The warning came as the UN Security Council considers three options proposed by Guterres for the peacekeeping mission’s future: Increase its size, reduce its footprint, or withdraw troops and police and turn it into a political mission. Its current mandate expires on June 30.

Dujarric said the peacekeeper killed on Friday was the ninth to die in Mali this year. The secretary-general paid tribute to "the determination and courage" of peacekeepers in Mali who work "in extremely challenging circumstances," he said. "This tragic loss is a stark reminder of the risks that peacekeepers in Mali and other places around the world face while tirelessly working to bring stability and peace to the people of Mali," he said.


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