As the government of Mali and representatives of three armed rebel groups continue talks aimed at ending the political crisis that has torn apart the West African nation, other factions still bent on violence have stepped up attacks on international peacekeepers. These continued assaults on UN troops must stop.
Five soldiers serving with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA, were killed and three others wounded by a roadside bomb while traveling between the towns of Aguelhok and Tessalit in the Kidal region of northern Mali on September 18.
It is the third such attack in two weeks, bringing the total of U.N. peacekeepers killed there this month to 10. Chadian soldiers, a mainstay of MINUSMA operations, have courageously borne the brunt of the attacks. Since U.N. troops took over peacekeeping duties in July 2013 from the French and African Union troops that first responded to the crisis, 21 peacekeepers have been killed in roadside bomb attacks and 84 wounded.
Chad's army is considered one of West Africa's most capable military forces, and it played a key role on the front-lines of last year's operation helping drive al-Qaeda linked Islamist fighters out of Mali. Pockets of insurgents remain, however, many of them operating in the Kidal region.
The United States strongly condemns yet another deadly attack against MINUSMA, which has an internationally recognized mandate to restore peace and stability to the region.
We express our condolences to the families of the peacekeepers killed and to the Government of Chad, and wish those wounded a full recovery. We call on all parties to cease hostilities.
We reiterate our full support of MINUSMA and our commitment to Mali’s national reconciliation efforts including achieving a durable and comprehensive peace agreement through ongoing talks in Algiers, and thank the Government of Chad for its vital role in the mission.