Peacekeepers killed in Mali suicide attack

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iol pic wld Mali Fighting Associated Press Malian Tuareg soldiers loyal to El-Hadj Gamou listen during a visit by Mali's army chief of staff in Kidal. File picture: Rebecca Blackwell

Bamako - Two United Nations peacekeepers were killed and seven wounded in a suicide attack in northern Mali on Saturday, which drew condemnation from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“Such attacks will not deter the United Nations from its efforts to support the Malian people in their search for peace in their country,” Ban said.

The suicide bomber drover a pick-up truck packed with explosives into a UN camp in Ber, 50 kilometres east of Timbuktu in northern Mali.

All the casualties were soldiers from Burkina Faso. Two soldiers with serious injuries were flown to the Senegalese capital, Dakar, for treatment.

A witness told dpa: “The Burkinabes had set up a camp in Ber in July after rebels took control of the town. There was no checkpoint. The bombers were able to drive their vehicle right into the camp, among the tents, before blowing themselves up.”

David Gressly, the acting chief of the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said in Bamako: “MINUSMA is paying too heavy a price in Mali given that the peacekeepers are here precisely to ensure a return to peace and stability.”

He told dpa: “We know that the Malian people are appalled by the gratuitous and ignoble violence” targeting peacekeepers even as a peace process has begun in Algiers.

On Thursday, two peacekeepers from Bangladesh were injured when their vehicle drove over a mine. The next day, a Chadian soldier was wounded at the same site when his vehicle drove over a mine.

Mali is still recovering from a 2012 military coup and Islamist insurgency. About 2 300 French soldiers continue to search for Islamist extremists in the country's north.

Three weeks of talks aimed at drawing up a roadmap for a peace process took place in Algiers in July and August, and are due to resume in September.

Sapa-dpa



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