Three dead in at­tack on UN base in north Mali

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BAMAKO: Two UN peace­keep­ers and a civil­ian con­trac­tor were killed in a rocket at­tack yes­ter­day on a UN base in north­east Mali, a week af­ter a deadly siege at a Bamako ho­tel claimed by ji­hadists. “Our camp in Ki­dal was at­tacked early this morn­ing by ter­ror­ists us­ing rock­ets,” said an of­fi­cial from the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Mali (MINUSMA), adding that two Guinean peace­keep­ers and a con­trac­tor work­ing for the United Na­tions were killed. A lo­cal of­fi­cial con­firmed the re­port. “The ter­ror­ists fired shots and then fled,” an­other UN source said.

MINUSMA later con­firmed the death toll in a state­ment and said a fur­ther 20 peo­ple were in­jured in the predawn at­tack, four se­ri­ously. No group had yet claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which came eight days af­ter a siege at the lux­ury Radis­son Blu ho­tel in Mali’s cap­i­tal Bamako, in which 20 peo­ple died in­clud­ing 14 for­eign­ers.

Armed men held around 170 guests and staff hostage in the Novem­ber 20 at­tack that lasted about nine hours be­fore Malian, French and US forces stormed the ho­tel to free the cap­tives, killing two as­sailants. Two sep­a­rate ji­hadist groups claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for that as­sault: The Al-Mura­bitoun group, an Al-Qaeda af­fil­i­ate led by no­to­ri­ous one-eyed Al­ge­rian mil­i­tant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and the Macina Lib­er­a­tion Front (LWF) from cen­tral Mali.

Four days later, a UN em­ployee was killed in an at­tack on a peace­keep­ing con­voy near the his­toric desert town of Tim­buktu. MINUSMA chief Mongi Hamdi said in a state­ment the at­tacks “would not dent the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the UN to sup­port the Malian peo­ple and the peace process, in­clud­ing as­sist­ing in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Agree­ment on Peace and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Mali”.

Per­ilous Peace­keep­ing Mis­sion

Mali has been plagued by un­rest since the north of the vast west African state fell un­der the con­trol of Tuareg rebels and ji­hadist groups linked to AlQaeda in 2012. The Is­lamists soon side­lined the Tuareg to take sole con­trol of Tim­buktu, Ki­dal and other north­ern towns but lost most of the ground they had cap­tured in a French-led mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Jan 2013. Nearly three years later, large swathes of Mali still re­main lawless de­spite a June peace deal be­tween the gov­ern­ment and Tuareg rebels seen as cru­cial to end­ing decades of in­sta­bil­ity in the north that left it vul­ner­a­ble to ex­trem­ism. — AFP

KI­DAL, Mali: A file photo taken on July 27, 2013 shows UN sol­diers pa­trolling in this north­ern Malian city. — AFP

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