UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. armored vehicle hit a mine Tuesday in central Mali, killing two Egyptian peacekeepers and seriously wounding five others in another deadly incident targeting the U.N. mission in the West African nation that has faced a decade-long Islamic insurgency.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said 10 U.N. peacekeepers have died in Mali in the first six months of 2022.
In Tuesday’s incident, he said, an armored vehicle from a U.N. logistics convoy hit a mine on the route from Tessalit, the north-central oasis town in the Sahara, to the central city of Gao.
Dujarric said a U.N. rapid intervention force was sent to the scene and the injured were evacuated.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission strongly condemned the attack, which may constitute a war crime under international law.
Dujarric said the mission noted “with concern the frequent use of improvised explosive devices intended to paralyze the operations of the U.N. mission and to obstruct the return to peace and stability in Mali.”
The U.N. Security Council condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” and called on Mali’s transitional government to swiftly investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. Its members “expressed their concern about the security situation in Mali and the transnational dimension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel region.”
Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted mutinous soldiers to overthrow the president. The power vacuum that resulted ultimately led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led war that ousted the jihadists from power in 2013.
But insurgents remain active and extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have moved from the arid north to more populated central Mali since 2015, stoking animosity and violence between ethnic groups in the region.
Mali’s current ruling junta seized power in August 2020, and in April the junta leaders said a transition to civilian, democratic rule would take at least two years.
The U.N. mission says over 255 of its peacekeepers and personnel have died since 2013, making Mali the deadliest of the U.N.’s dozen peacekeeping missions worldwide.