The United Nations said one of its peacekeepers died when a convoy travelling through northern Mali hit a makeshift roadside bomb on Friday, the fifth UN troop killed in just three days in the jihadist-hit West African country.
‘Following the explosion, two peacekeepers were seriously injured’ and ‘one them unfortunately succumbed to his wounds during a medical evacuation,’ the UN’s MINUSMA mission said in a statement.
‘While securing the site, another explosive device was detected and neutralised’ nearby, the statement added.
The attack took place at around 3:00pm in the area of Tessalit in the Kidal region, where the al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims is notoriously active.
The group has claimed responsibility for an improvised explosive device attack on Wednesday which killed four Ivorian UN peacekeepers travelling from Douentza to Timbuktu in the northeast.
Earlier Friday, the French armed forces announced they had killed around 15 jihadists near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso.
France, which has 5,100 troops deployed across the Sahel, has lost five soldiers since late December in IED attacks claimed by the GSIM.
In recent weeks there has been an uptick in a brutal conflict that has been raging in Mali since 2012, when jihadists overtook a rebellion by mostly ethnic Tuareg separatists in the north.
After spreading to central Mali, the campaign advanced into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, inflaming ethnic tensions along the way.
First established in 2013, the 13,000-strong MINUSMA has lost 146 members in hostile acts, the highest number of fatalities of any peacekeeping mission in the world.
Sixty of that number were killed by IEDs.
On Friday MINUSMA head Mahamat Saleh Annadif condemned ‘acts intended to paralyse MINUSMA operations on the ground and to indiscriminately affect the personnel of the United Nations, its partners, or innocent civilians’.
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