BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Two United Nations peacekeepers from Egypt were killed and five others seriously wounded when their vehicle hit a landmine planted by suspected jihadis in northern Mali on Tuesday, the U.N. said.
The deadly attack comes just days after the renewal of the mandate of the U.N. Mission to Mali, known as MINUSMA.
“This morning, an armored vehicle of a MINUSMA logistics convoy hit a mine on the Tessalit-Gao road,” the mission announced in a press release.
“According to an initial report, two peacekeepers died of their injuries and five others were seriously wounded as a result of the attack,” the statement added.
“The victims are all Egyptian nationals,” a U.N. official told The Associated Press, insisting on anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press until the U.N. informs the families.
Ten U.N. peacekeepers have been killed in Mali since the beginning of the year.
First deployed in 2013, the mandate of the U.N. mission in Mali to help battle against Islamic extremist rebels was renewed last week although the Malian government said it will not support the mission's aim to promote and safeguard human rights.
Russia and China abstained from the French-drafted U.N. resolution, which extends the mandate of the mission until June 30, 2023, with its current ceiling of 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 international police.
More than 270 peacekeepers have died in Mali, making it the U.N.’s deadliest peacekeeping mission, according to U.N. officials.
Mali is ruled by a military junta that seized power in August 2020. Col. Assim Goita has been named president.
Mali’s junta has grown closer to Russia, as Moscow has looked to build alliances and gain sway in Africa. The Russian Wagner Group has deployed a team of fighters in Mali.
Last week a European military task force that helped Mali’s government fight Islamic extremists formally withdrew from the West African country amid tensions with its ruling military junta.
The French military, which spearheaded the Takuba task force, announced that it had ended its work in Mali. The move was tied to France’s decision earlier this year to withdraw troops from Mali after nine years of helping Malian forces fight violent extremists who had threatened to seize power.
The European Takuba force was composed of several hundred special forces troops from 10 countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden. It aimed at training and protecting Malian combat forces.