The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has condemned an attack against peacekeepers in Mali, which left one Egyptian ‘blue helmet’ dead, and four others seriously injured, the UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
António Guterres expressed his deep condolences to the family of the victim, as well as the Government and people of Egypt, while wishing a speedy recovery to the injured peacekeepers serving with the UN Stabilisation Mission for Mali (MINUSMA).
An improvised explosive device exploded on Saturday, killing a MINUSMA peacekeeper and injuring three others in the northeast of Mali, a UN official said.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UN mission (MINUSMA), El-Ghassim Wane, announced Saturday on his Twitter account that it was a MINUSMA vehicle that hit an improvised explosive device near Tessalit in Kidal region.
“The death toll is one and three serious injuries…
“This reminds us of the ongoing danger to our peacekeepers and the sacrifices made for peace in Mali,’’ Wane tweeted.
The secretary-general recalled that attacks targeting peacekeepers “may constitute war crimes under international law” and called on the Malian authorities to “spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of these attacks so that they can be brought to justice swiftly.
“Guterres reaffirms the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Mali,” he said
In a statement, MINUSMA said they had been travelling in a convoy near Tessalit, inside the restive Kidal region, when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.
Wane, also strongly condemned the attack, noting that it was “a sad reminder of the permanent danger that hangs over our peacekeepers and of the sacrifices made for peace in Mali”.
Mali remains the most dangerous place to serve as a peacekeeper and having experienced two military coups over the past year, the security situation has deteriorated overall, with State institutions weakened.
Armed extremists in the north and centre of the country, continue to launch all-out attacks on civilians as well as UN personnel, while communal violence is also on the rise.
A UN independent expert on the human rights situation in Mali said last month that violence was on the rise, threatening the country’s very survival.
Wane paid tribute to the soldier who died and said the injured blue helmets had been evacuated and were “receiving the necessary care. He offered his deepest condolences to the Government of the deceased, to his family and comrades-in-arms.”
The MINUSMA chief said that the “cowardly attack” would only strengthen the mission’s “determination to support Mali and its people, in their quest for peace and stability.”