Three UN peacekeepers were killed on Tuesday when their convoy struck a roadside bomb in jihadist-torn central Mali, the mission said, in a fresh blow to the long-running operation.
“A MINUSMA Force convoy hit an Improvised Explosive Device #IED today,” it said in a tweet that gave a preliminary toll of three dead and five seriously injured.
With more than 13,500 military personnel and police, Mali it is one of the biggest but also dangerous UN peacekeeping missions, suffering a high toll especially to IEDs.
In January, UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a report that 165 peacekeepers had died and 687 were wounded in hostile acts since July 2013.
The force recorded 548 IED attacks up to the date of the report, claiming 103 lives and 638 wounded among MINUSMA personnel.
Anger within the Malian military at the government’s failure to roll back the insurgency led to a coup against the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, in August 2020.
The junta wove closer ties with the Kremlin, bringing in Russian paramilitaries and equipment, as relations with France, the country’s traditional ally, spiralled downwards.
France in 2022 withdrew its last troops from Mali deployed under its long-running Barkhane anti-jihadist force in the Sahel.
The junta in Bamako routinely claims that it is gaining the upper hand against the jihadists since it has pivoted to Russia.
On Monday, it protested after the head of the European Council, Charles Michel, last week said that the Malian state was “collapsing” and that the jihadists were gaining ground.
The jihadist insurgency began alongside a revolt by ethnic Tuaregs demanding self-rule in the north of the country in 2012.
France sent in troops to beat back the rebellion, but the jihadists regrouped and expanded into the centre of the country in 2015.
From there, they carried out bloody incursions into neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.