18 UN peacekeepers injured in attack in northern Mali

Gao, Mail- UN Peacekeepers from Senegal on an early morning patrol in Gao, Mali on Sunday, January 15, 2017. Despite the end of the occupation, many Malians find that security is still a major issue speaking of incidents of car jacking and looting. Even though crime is high, most of the deadly attacks that occur are against the United Nations Minusma mission, Malian soldiers and the French military. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post)
FILE PHOTO: UN Peacekeepers on an early morning patrol in Gao, Mali. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post/Getty Images)

Eighteen United Nations peacekeepers from Chad were wounded on Thursday in an attack on a military base for UN, French and Malian troops in northern Mali, a UN spokesperson said.

“The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali reported that this morning several mortars and/or rockets were fired at its camp in Tessalit in the Kidal region,” Stephane Dujarric said adding that the UN mission shares the camp with Malian and international forces.

Dujarric said initial reports indicated that 18 UN peacekeepers from Chad were wounded, including six who had suffered serious injuries.

The mission immediately organized medical evacuations and security reinforcements, said Dujarric. “We strongly condemn the attack that took place at the camp.”

The French military, which runs a separate anti-insurgent mission across the Sahel region, said that none of its soldiers were injured in the attack.

Mali is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for UN peacekeepers. 206 peacekeepers have been killed in ongoing counter-insurgency operations, according to UN figures.

Troops from Mali’s neighbors make up the majority of the more than 13,000 UN peacekeeping troops in Mali (MINUSMA).

Islamic extremists took over Mali’s north in 2012. France, Mali’s former colonial ruler, led a 2013 military operation that ousted them from their urban strongholds. Since then, however, the extremists roam through the open, desert areas of northern Mali.

Mali’s military has failed to stem the violence despite support from France and the UN peacekeeping mission.

The extremist groups have pushed south into Mali’s more populated areas and into neighboring Burkina Faso, staging deadly attacks.