Two Chadian soldiers serving with a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali were killed recently, victims of a suicide bomb attack in the northern town of Tessalit. Six other peacekeepers were injured in the attack as militants assaulted a military checkpoint.
Chadian and Malian troops exchanged gunfire with the militants hours after the raid, underscoring the fragile security situation there even after French troops drove large numbers of the insurgents from the region’s towns and cities earlier this year.
The United States strongly condemns the attack against the UN Mulitdimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA, and regrets the loss of life and the death of a Malian civilian. It was the first such attack since the mission was deployed this summer and we support the efforts of the Malian government and the United Nations to identify the perpetrators and hold them responsible.
Military experts have warned that while the combined French and Malian military operation defeated the militants who overran Northern Mali last year, many are still holed up in the desert planning similar bombings and suicide attacks. Indeed, the Tessalit strike was preceded by strikes near Gao and Timbuktu.
The United States is fully committed to supporting the efforts of MINUSMA to assist Mali in consolidating peace and security gains, including its work toward national reconciliation. We are concerned that the recent attacks demonstrate the threat still posed to regional stability and call on all parties to cease hostilities immediately.