At least four UN peacekeepers were killed and 15 others wounded when their convoy hit a mine in northern Mali on Tuesday, a spokesman said.
The group of Chadian peacekeepers was returning from the embattled town of Kidal when they struck a mine about 20 miles (30 kilometers) outside the city, said Olivier Salgado, a spokesman for the force. Six of those hurt are seriously wounded, he said.
Salgado did not speculate on who was behind the attack, the largest in months. But the al Qaeda group operating in the country recently has taken responsibility for several recent attacks on UN peacekeepers. Kidal is also the home of a simmering revolt by Tuareg separatist movement.
Northern Mali fell under control of Tuareg separatists and then al Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. A French-led intervention last year scattered the extremists, but some remain active and there have been continued bursts of violence.
UN troops are now trying to stabilize the north, and peace talks have begun between the Malian government and Tuaregs, who maintain a heavy presence in Kidal and have pushed back against the authority of the Bamako-based government. Al Qaeda is not participating in those discussions.
“A peace process is under way, some want to compromise it, that’s totally unacceptable and irresponsible,” Bert Koenders, the UN special envoy for Mali, said. He added that the secretary-general and the UN Security Council have been informed.
Including those who died Tuesday, 15 peacekeepers have been killed in Mali this year.
Date created : 2014-09-02