New York/IBNS: Three UN peacekeepers from Chad were killed in northern Mali on Sunday when their convoy hit a roadside bomb near Aguelhok, in the restive Kidal region. The improvised device also seriously injured four others who are now receiving medical care, the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement.
“We must combine all efforts to identify and apprehend those responsible for these terrorist acts so they can answer for their crimes before the justice system”, said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the Mission.
He strongly condemned cowardly acts that aim to paralyze ground operations and indiscriminately harm both UN personnel and innocent civilians. “I bow before the remains of these brave Blue Helmets killed in the service of peace in Mali”, he added.
UN chief António Guterres also strongly condemned the attack, expressing deep condolences to the families of the victims, and to the Government and people of Chad.
He called on Malian authorities to “spare no effort” in identifying the perpetrators so they can be swiftly brought to justice, recalling that attacks on ‘blue helmets’ may constitute war crimes under international law.
“Such cowardly acts will not deter the United Nations from its resolve to continue supporting the people and Government of Mali in their pursuit of peace and stability,” he asserted.
Established in 2013, the Mission has some 13,000 troops deployed across the country, which has faced a worsening security situation in recent years. What began as a localized revolt in Mali’s north in 2012 has since engulfed the centre of the country and neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.
In April, Mr Annadif told the Security Council that in implementing the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, more than 1,000 elements have been deployed since February in Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal and Ménaka, as part of the first reconstituted units of the Malian Defense and Security forces in the North.
In the central region, he said MINUSMA continues to implement its adaptation plan, with 19 additional civilian staff redeployed to Mopti and a hotline established there for civilians.
As the number of displaced civilians increases – reaching 218,000 people in March, versus just under 200,000 last November – the UN envoy expressed hope that “concrete actions to fight impunity will be taken.” In the meantime, MINUSMA continues to provide regional security support and has begun construction of a Joint Force headquarters in the capital, Bamako.
Security Council condemns attack
The members of the Security Council condemned "in the strongest terms" the attack perpetrated against the MINUSMA convoy in Aguelhoc, expressing their deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, to Chad and to MINUSMA. "They wished a speedy and full recovery to those who were injured. They paid tribute to the peacekeepers who risk their lives", said a statement issued by the world peace and security body.
"The members of the Security Council called on the Government of Mali to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice. They underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. They stressed that involvement in planning, directing, sponsoring or conducting attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers constitutes a basis for sanctions designations pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolutions."
Photo caption and credit: UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti UN peacekeepers from Chad patrol the streets of Kidal, Mali, December 2016.