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Mali: UN chief says ‘complex attack’ against blue helmets may constitute war crime 

UN peacekeepers patrol the Menaka region in northeast Mali.
MINUSMA/Harandane Dicko
UN peacekeepers patrol the Menaka region in northeast Mali.

Mali: UN chief says ‘complex attack’ against blue helmets may constitute war crime 

Peace and Security

 Secretary-General António Guterres condemned  on Saturday, a “complex attack” against the UN mission in the West African country of Mali 

An assault on Thursday by unidentified armed elements on a temporary operating base of the UN Integrated Stabilization Mission for Mali (MINUSMA) in Kerena, near Douentza in Central Mali,  resulted in the death of a Togolese peacekeeper and the wounding of 27 others.  

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, the UN chief emphasized that attacks against UN blue helmets “may constitute a war crime” and called on the Malian authorities to “spare no efforts in promptly holding to account the perpetrators of this heinous attack”.  

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The Secretary-General expressed his deep condolences to the victim’s family and to the people and Government of Togo and wished the injured a full recovery.  

The Malian Government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild the volatile country’s institutions following a series of setbacks since early 2012 that fractured the country, including a failed coup d'état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the short-lived seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists. 

Security Council castigation 

Previously, the Security Council had issued a statement condemning the attack “in the strongest terms” while stressing that involvement in “planning, directing, sponsoring or conducting attacks against MINUSMA peacekeepers constitutes a basis for sanctions designations”, pursuant to its resolutions.  

Moreover, they reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations “constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security”.   

The Council underlined the need to “bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice” and upheld that those responsible be held accountable. 

They urged all States, to “cooperate actively with all relevant authorities” and reiterated that any “acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable”, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.  

Overcoming asymmetric threats 

The Council members expressed their concern over the security situation in Mali as well as the transnational terrorist threat in the Sahel region, reiterating their full support of MINUSMA and other security presences in the country and throughout the Sahel region.  

They urged the Malian parties to “fully implement the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali without further delay”, which they noted could, along with intensified efforts to overcome “asymmetric threats”, contribute to improved security across the State.  

The members further underscored the importance that MINUSMA have the necessary capacities to fulfil its mandate.  

“The members of the Security Council stressed that these heinous acts will not undermine their determination to continue to support the peace and reconciliation process in Mali”, the statement concluded.  

Ray of light 

The attack on Thursday came on the same day of a historic meeting in Kidal of the Monitoring Committee of the Peace Agreement . 

The high-level meeting, chaired by Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum, brought together six Malian Ministers, the leadership of the signatory armed movements and the International Mediation and marked its first meeting outside of Bamako since it was signed in 2015. 

The Secretary-General had congratulated the Malian people and welcomed the “new momentum and…growing trust among the signatory parties” and encouraged them to “build upon this positive dynamic by translating the agreed commitments into actions so that the Malian people could reap the benefits of peace”.