Some 6,000 of the 13,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali have been withdrawn in a casualty-scarred operation, a UN spokesman said on Thursday.
The mission, known as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, has been bringing back from forward bases contingents of peacekeepers over hundreds of treacherous kilometers from their northern bases, said Stephane Dujarric, chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Dujarric said eight peacekeepers were injured Wednesday when a convoy retreating from Kidal hit an improvised explosive device (IED) and then evacuated to a major base in Gao.
One of the eight peacekeepers was transferred to Bamako earlier on Thursday, he said, adding that the convoy that the peacekeeper was in was the last to leave Kidal.
Earlier in the week, the spokesman said that IED blasts hit convoys withdrawing troops and equipment and injured two peacekeepers. Malian authorities denied the convoys protective air cover.
After a May 2021 coup, the military-imposed government asked the world body to withdraw the peacekeepers, saying that they failed to maintain peace. Deadly raids by militants from the Sahara Desert for years have been harassing villagers, who frequently sought refuge in peacekeeping bases and camps.
The Security Council on June 30 ordered the peacekeepers to withdraw by Dec. 31.
Dujarric said the peacekeepers intend to leave Mali by the end of the year except for the liquidation team, including the rear parties of contingents and guard unit.