May 24th, 2017 11:38 EST
Two UN Peacekeepers Killed in Attack in Mali
Two peacekeepers of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali were killed and another injured on Tuesday morning in an ambush in the northern Kidal region.
"A pedestrian patrol of MINUSMA was attacked in an ambush around 6:30 am this morning, five kilometres from Aguelhok," the Mission announced.
Strongly condemning "this murderous attack," MINUSMA, chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who is also the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Mali, said the Mission immediately deployed a rapid response force at the scene and proceeded to evacuate the wounded and the deceased.
"This attack adds to a wave of violence that, over the past few weeks, has targeted the civilian populations, the Malian Armed Forces and the international forces without distinction. The violence is aimed only at undermining [ ... ] efforts to bring stability and unity to Mali," Mr. Annadif said.
He went on to reiterate the solidarity and determination of the Mission to support the efforts of the Malian Government, other signatory parties and the people of Mali in the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
"MINUSMA is prepared to make all its contribution to the identification of the perpetrators of this attack so that they are promptly brought to justice," he said.
Later in the day in remarks to a meeting on Force generation for MINUSMA, Mr. Guterres paid tribute to the courageous peacekeepers who lost their lives in the ambush, calling it "a dark reminder of the dangers facing MINUSMA on the ground."
According to the UN chief, since the establishment of MINUSMA four years ago, Malians have made significant progress towards peace and reconciliation. However, tragically, this progress has not been translated into peace. Violent extremist groups are actively seeking to spoil and halt the peace process.
New armed groups emerged, while some existing groups were divided into different factions. Instability has spread from the north to the center of the country and beyond the borders of Mali in neighboring countries, he explained.
Peacekeeping operations, continued Mr. Guterres, must be equipped to meet the requirements of the new operational environments. "Mali is a test for the international community [ ... ] we cannot deploy MINUSMA peacekeepers to areas where terrorist groups and transnational criminal networks operate, without providing them with the means to cope with the difficulties they face."
As such, he said MINSUMA must be given the means to support the Malian institutions to gradually exercise their responsibility to restore stability. "We need armored personnel carriers and helicopters for peacekeepers to be able to intervene more effectively. We need the rapid reaction force and its integrated helicopter support team in Mopti to respond quickly to incidents, protect civilians and counter the spread of violent extremist elements."
Photo Credit: Wikipedia