The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali on Wednesday condemned attacks on his force that left at least 20 members injured.
A U.N. statement said an unknown group opened fire on a temporary base near Kerena village in central Mali. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, head of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), called it a “cowardly attack on peacekeepers.”
Many of the peacekeepers injured were from a Togolese contingent, Agence France-Presse reported.
The statement said that despite the injuries, the soldiers were able to repel the attackers.
Since its establishment in 2013, MINUSMA’s 13,000-strong army has had about 230 members killed while on duty.
The unit’s objective is to “help reduce violence against populations, restore calm in areas where community tensions are reported and reduce the threat of improvised explosive devices,” Annadif said.
Thousands of civilians in Mali have either died or fled their homes because of the jihadist insurgency. It began in the north but has shifted to central Mali, where there has been a spike in attacks on soldiers and ethnic killings have become common.
Last month, four U.N. peacekeepers were killed when a convoy struck a roadside bomb before coming under fire in the same region. Five other personnel were wounded in that attack.
Annadif said MINUSMA, described as one of the U.N.’s most dangerous peacekeeping missions, has been “conducting numerous security operations in this part of Mali for several months now.” He said “these operations disturb the enemies of peace,” and those serving “remain committed to stand by the Malians, for the Malians.”
Source: Voice of America