The UN mission in Mali is one of the most dangerous peacekeeping operations in the world. File/Reuters
Three United Nations peacekeepers died and six more were wounded on Wednesday in northern Mali hours before the UN’s top official in the country expressed cautious optimism that a new roadmap would lead the turbulent West African nation to elections in March 2022.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali said the peacekeepers’ vehicle struck an improvised explosive device and the soldiers then came under attack by unidentified gunmen in the Timbuktu region. Ivory Coast’s army chief of staff, Gen. Lassina Doumbia, said the three dead peacekeepers were from that country and they were attacked by extremists.
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The UN peacekeeping mission has been in Mali since 2013, after extremists took control of major towns in the north. A French-led military operation dislodged the rebels, but the extremists have since regrouped in rural areas and expanded their reach, targeting Mali’s army and the UN mission.
According to the UN, 231 peacekeepers in Mali have been killed due to hostile incidents.
In August, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was ousted from power by a military junta. Under international pressure, the junta appointed a civilian-led government to lead the country through an 18-month transition to new elections.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the device that killed the Egyptian peacekeepers and wounded one other was planted on a road outside the town of Douentza in the Mopti region.
For the ninth year in a row, the mission in Mali, known by its French acronym as MINUSMA, suffered the most fatalities, with 14 deaths in 2022, followed by 13 killed from the mission in Congo, Xinhua news agency reported.
Twenty-four Malian soldiers and 17 extremists fighters were killed in clashes in the east of the country, the army said, as security in the west African nation deteriorates further.
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