U.N. condemns 'vile' killing of 8 peacekeepers in Mali

BAMAKO, Mali – The United Nations' spokesman in Mali condemned the killing of at least 8 UN peacekeepers in a "vile and criminal attack" on their base in the northeast early Sunday, January 20.

"Peacekeepers of the MINUSMA force at Aguelhok fought off a sophisticated attack by assailants who arrived on several armed vehicles," said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the UN's special representative for Mali.

Eight peacekeepers have so far been confirmed dead and several others were wounded, he added in a statement.

The "cowardly" attack, he added, "illustrates the determination of the terrorists to sow chaos.

"It demands a robust, immediate and concerted response from all forces to destroy the peril of terrorism in the Sahel."

More than 13,000 peacekeepers are deployed in Mali as part of a UN mission that was established after Islamist militias seized northern Mali in 2012. They were pushed backed by French troops in 2013.

A peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups was aimed at restoring stability to Mali following a brief Islamist takeover in the north.

But the accord has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants, who have also staged attacks in Burkina Faso and Niger.

Earlier this month, both France and the United States criticized the authorities in Mali for their failure to stem the worsening violence. – Rappler.com