Bamako: A United Nations peacekeeper was killed and five others sustained injuries on Sunday (local time) when their vehicle hit an explosive device in northern Mali, the UN said.
“# Mali: 1 MINUSMA peacekeeper killed and five others wounded in two attacks, # Aguelhok and # Bandiagara,” the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said on its official Twitter account.
The soldiers had been participating in a patrol in the vicinity of Aguelhok village when the blast occurred. A Rapid Response Force, backed up by air intervention, was immediately deployed to the site of the explosion to allow for their evacuation and to transport the wounded to MINUSMA hospitals.
In a separate incident, around 1 a.m. (local time), UN peacekeepers in a temporary operating base in the vicinity of Bandiagara, in the Mopti region, exchanged fire with members of an unidentified armed group after they came under attack. A peacekeeper or ‘Blue Helmet’ was seriously injured and then evacuated by a helicopter for medical treatment.
Any terror group has not yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.
MINUSMA chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif strongly condemned the recent resurgence of this type of attack, particularly in the center of the country.
He also extended his sincere condolences to the family of the deceased soldier and wished for a speedy recovery of the wounded.
Mali has been in conflict since 2012 when Islamists hijacked an ethnic uprising by Tuaregs in the north. Recently, the violence has moved to central Mali, where fighting between the local groups has also surged this year.
Local terror groups have further exploited ethnic rivalries in Mali and its neighbours to boost recruitment and render swaths of territory ungovernable.
Less than a week ago, 38 Malian soldiers were killed in a double attack on two army camps in central Mali – among the heaviest losses for Mali’s army in recent years.