Seven peacekeepers were injured when the United Nations (UN) convoy withdrawing from the northern Kidal region to neighboring Gao in Mali was attacked on Friday by a fourth improvised explosive device (IED), a UN spokesman said.
“This is part of the withdrawal process,” said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Dujarric recalled eight other peacekeepers injured in a similar incident on Wednesday, who are now reportedly in stable condition.
“This is the fourth time that the convoy has been impacted by an IED since it left the base in Kidal on Oct. 31 (Tuesday),” the spokesman said, adding the slow-moving journey was expected to take four to five days over hundreds of kilometers, arriving in Gao by Monday.
He previously described the road as poor and very dangerous. Malian authorities have denied air cover to protect the convoy carrying peacekeepers and equipment.
The Malians requested UN peacekeepers be removed from the country, claiming they were ineffective in maintaining peace. The current government was installed after a May 2021 military coup.
The UN mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, has operated in the country for 10 years, often sheltering villagers from raids by militants swooping out of the Sahara Desert to terrify civilians, the mission reported.
After the government’s withdrawal request, the Security Council ordered MINUSMA to pull up stakes and move out. MINUSMA said all but a security and support contingent would be out by Dec. 31.
Also at the government’s request, France officially ended its nine-year peacekeeping mission in Mali just one year ago.