This Wednesday, January 13, at around 12 noon, a detachment of Ivorian peacekeepers engaged within the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, on a reconnaissance mission, was the object of an attack by an armed terrorist group approximately 95 km south of Timbuktu, ”detailed the Ivorian army chief of staff in a statement released in the evening. The information was also confirmed by a Minusma official on condition of anonymity. “During a security operation, a Minusma company struck […] improvised explosive devices (IED) before being the target of fire by unidentified armed men ”, informs the press release of the UN mission. The attack took place north of Bambara-Maoudé, on the axis between Douentza (center) and Timbuktu (north-west), in a region which is one of the hotbeds of the polymorphous violence that is plaguing the Sahel. The response of the blue helmets pushed the attackers to flee, said Minusma in its statement. “However, preliminary reports indicate that as a result of this attack three peacekeepers died and six others were injured,” she said.
The UN operation in Mali is the deadliest
Minusma, established in 2013, has lost more than 230 of its members, including more than 130 in hostile acts, according to UN statistics. It is the deadliest mission for peacekeepers in the world. With 15,000 men and women, including around 12,000 soldiers, according to the UN, it is regularly the target of attacks against its convoys or its positions. Many of its losses were caused by improvised mines hitting vehicles or immobilizing them in ambushes. Between late December and early January, five soldiers of the French anti-jihadist force in the Sahel Barkhane were killed in Mali by the explosion of homemade explosive devices. Both attacks were claimed by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, Jnim in Arabic), affiliated with Al Qaeda.
The Douentza-Timbuktu sector is also the field of action of GSIM, and not of the Islamic State (IS) organization, also active in Mali. The attack on the Minusma convoy came on the day of a quarterly meeting of the UN Security Council on Mali and the peace effort in this country which has been in turmoil for years. In his latest report, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the deterioration of the security situation. Over the past three months, “the security situation has continued to deteriorate (…), particularly in the center” of the country, he noted. Its special representative and head of the Minusma, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, strongly condemned this new attack against the peacekeepers who put their lives in danger on a daily basis in the service of peace and stability in Mali. “At a time when all efforts are being made to bring Mali out of the rut, I deeply deplore the upsurge in these attacks against national and international forces, as well as civilian populations,” he said in the press release. of the mission.