UN peacekeeper killed in explosion in northern Mali

FILE PHOTO: UN Peacekeepers on an early morning patrol in Gao, Mali. (Jane Hahn for the Washington Post/Getty Images)

A United Nations peacekeeper was killed in an explosion at a mine while on patrol in Kidal in northern Mali, according to the head of the UN mission in the country (MINUSMA), El-Ghassim Wane.

“Terrible news which adds to the long list of our colleagues who have lost their lives during their service in Mali,” Wane said on Twitter.

FILE PHOTO: UN peacekeepers on patrol in a part of Mali. /Getty Images

A MINUSMA official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said the peacekeeper, who was part of a Guinean contingent, was initially injured and later succumbed to his injuries at the mission’s hospital.

Jihadists are believed to favor the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to stage attacks on UN peacekeepers, Malian soldiers and as well as civilians.

MINUSMA was established in 2013 after terrorist groups took control of major towns in the West African nation’s north a year earlier. The mission has been dubbed the most dangerous UN operation in the world as attacks against civilians and peacekeepers continue increasing.

According to UN figures, MINUSMA has suffered more than 230 fatalities among its civilian and uniformed personnel while more than 350 personnel have been injured.

Negotiations on the UN Security Council extending MINUSMA’s mandate are ongoing against a backdrop of heightened political uncertainty in Mali, which has experienced two military takeovers, and as security, human rights, and humanitarian conditions worsen throughout the country.

(Story compiled with assistance with wire reports)