Five United Nations peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in central Mali earlier today, with another 'blue helmet' seriously injured, according to preliminary information reported by the country's UN mission, which deplored the “heinous act of terrorism” as all the more shocking because it occurred on the day set aside for the global community to honour UN peacekeepers.
According to a press statement from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the ambush occurred at about 11:00 a.m. near the town of Sevaré. According to preliminary information, five Togolese peacekeepers were killed. Another was seriously injured has been evacuated.
In the wake of the deadly ambush, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council also condemned the incident, with the UN chief calling for swift action to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
“[Mr. Ban] observes with sadness that this latest attack on MINUSMA has taken place on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, when the men and women serving under the United Nations flag with honour, courage and dedication are to be honoured,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson, referring to the annual 29 May commemoration, declared by the UN General Assembly in 2003.
The statement also underscored that the Secretary-General recalled, once again, that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law.
For its part, the Security Council, in a press statement, reaffirmed that all forms and manifestations of terrorism represent a serious threats to international peace and security. The Council also expressed concern about the security situation in Mali.
Council members noted that the full implementation of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali and the intensification of efforts to overcome asymmetric threats can contribute to improving the security situation across the entire country. They further stressed the importance that MINUSMA has the necessary capacities to fully fulfil its current mandate.
Through their respective statements, MINUSMA, the Secretary-General and the members of the Council all expressed condolences to the families of victims, as well as to the Government and people of Togo, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured peacekeeper.
"I condemn in the strongest terms this despicable crime in addition to other terrorist acts that targeted our peacekeepers, which constitute crimes against humanity under international law," said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and head of MINUSMA.
"This heinous act of terrorism is even more shocking [as] it was perpetrated there during the International Day of Peacekeepers," underscored, Mr. Annadi.
Mr. Annadif urged that every effort be made to identify those responsible for these heinous crimes against friendly forces of Mali and the Malian Armed Forces, five of whom were also killed on Friday, 27 May.
Finally, he stressed that the MINUSMA is more committed than ever to pursue its mission in support of Mali and its people.