Al Qaeda-linked group claims responsibility for attack on UN troops in Mali

A terror group affiliated with Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for an assault that inflicted injuries upon members of the UN peacekeeping contingent in Mali as the force is currently in the process of withdrawing from the country, monitors reported on Tuesday.

According to the statement from the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) tracked by SITE, a minimum of four MINUSMA members sustained injuries on Sunday during an attack along a road in northern Mali, situated between Timbuktu and Ber.

On its Al-Zallaqa propaganda platform, the GSIM also claimed responsibility on Monday for an attack that occurred on Sunday targeting a military position of Mali’s army near Korioume, located to the south of Timbuktu.

MINUSMA, which stands for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, constitutes one of the largest and most hazardous peacekeeping endeavors conducted by the UN.

Its deployment was initiated in 2013 following the outbreak of separatist and jihadist uprisings in northern Mali a year earlier.

However, compelled by Mali’s governing junta, the 13,000-strong mission is slated to conclude its presence by the end of the year, in alignment with the withdrawal of French troops in 2022.

The commencement of MINUSMA’s withdrawal from its multiple bases commenced in early August, starting with Ogossagou located in the central part of the country.

Following the incident on Sunday, MINUSMA announced its decision to expedite the departure from its Ber base “due to the deteriorating security situation in the area (and) the high risks” confronting its personnel.

It was reported that MINUSMA forces were subjected to two attacks, resulting in the evacuation of three injured peacekeepers for medical treatment in Timbuktu.

The fate of the Ber base has intensified tensions between the Malian army and former rebels situated in the area.

The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition primarily representing Touareg ethnic groups, asserts that the junta’s efforts to assume control of the evacuated base would constitute a violation of the ceasefire terms established in 2014.

The CMA entered into a peace agreement with Mali’s former civilian administration in 2015; however, the accord has encountered growing tension following a 2020 coup that ousted the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The CMA reported that their forces in Ber were assaulted on Friday by government soldiers and paramilitary personnel associated with Russia’s Wagner group.

The army, for its part, says its troops in the area have been fighting terrorists — six troops in a unit that were to deploy at the base were killed last Friday in fighting armed militants, it says.

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