The UN mission in Mali (Minusma) announced on Friday the death of one of its soldiers following the explosion of an artisanal mine as a convoy passed through the north of the country, becoming the fifth peacekeeper killed in three days in Mali.
“Following the explosion, two peacekeepers were seriously injured” and “one of them unfortunately succumbed to his wounds during his medical evacuation,” writes Minusma in a statement received Friday evening.
The explosion took place “around 3 pm” “around Tessalit, in the Kidal region,” said Minusma. The nationality of the killed soldier was not immediately disclosed. “While securing the site, another explosive device was detected and then neutralized near the site of the explosion,” the statement added.
146 dead since 2013
This is the fifth peacekeeper killed in three days in Mali: Wednesday, a UN convoy between Douentza (center) and Timbuktu (north-west) had struck one or more explosive devices before being targeted by shots. Four Ivorian peacekeepers had died.
The UN Mission in Mali has lost 146 of its members due to hostile acts since its deployment in 2013; it is the deadliest UN mission in the world.
Among these 146 members killed in hostilities, 60 were killed during or following the explosion of explosive devices, one of the operating methods among the most used in the Sahel by jihadist groups, for some affiliated with Al-Qaeda and for others to the Islamic State organization.
No claim for the moment
The sector of Tessalit where the explosion took place on Friday, like that of Douentza on Wednesday, are areas of action of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, Jnim in Arabic), affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
No claim for these two attacks had been made on Friday evening. The GSIM nevertheless claimed Thursday the activation of improvised explosive devices which caused the death of five soldiers of the French anti-jihadist force Barkhane on December 28 and January 2 in Mali.
On January 9, in an operation in central Mali in the Boulikessi area, “GSIM predation zone” according to the French general staff on Friday, Barkhane killed about fifteen jihadists.
Very precarious situation in Mali
Since the start of the year, Malian and French soldiers have been engaged in a joint operation in the center of the country. An air strike during this operation created controversy, villagers claiming that it touched a marriage and left twenty dead while Paris and Bamako hammer home that only jihadists were killed.
The situation in Mali remains very precarious, as noted in his last report by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, expressing concern at the deterioration of the security situation.
His special representative and head of Minusma, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, on Friday strongly condemned “acts aimed at paralyzing the operations of Minusma on the ground and indiscriminately affecting the personnel of the United Nations, its partners, or innocent civilians ”.