UN peacekeeping force in Mali speeds up withdrawal over security concerns

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said Sunday that it had moved up its withdrawal from a base in the country’s north due to tensions between the government and former Tuareg rebels.

“MINUSMA has expedited its withdrawal from (the northern area of) #Ber due to the deteriorating security situation in the area & the high risks posed to our #BlueHelmets,” it said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It also urged all concerned parties to refrain from any actions that could further complicate the operation.

It added that the MINUSMA convoy that withdrew from Ber was attacked twice.

“3 wounded peacekeepers were evacuated to #Timbuktu for medical attention. Attacks against #peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law,” it added.

Local media reported that MINUSMA handed over the camp to the Malian army.

MINUSMA, which has been in the field in Mali since 2013, announced that it would withdraw completely from the country before the end of the year at the request of the Mali government.

Tensions erupted in Mali in 2012 following a failed coup and Tuareg rebellion that ultimately allowed militant groups to take over the northern half of the country.

Meanwhile, the Malian army said Sunday that clashes with terrorist groups in Ber on Friday and Saturday left at least six soldiers dead and four others wounded as its forces moved to occupy the camp left by the UN peacekeepers from Burkina Faso.

“The Malian armed forces occupied the Ber camp this Sunday at around 08:30, after many incidents that punctuated the movement of our units,” the army said.

Media reports indicate that the occupation of Ber had triggered tensions in recent days between the Malian army and the Russian paramilitary group Wagner on one hand and rebels of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), former Tuareg rebels who did not want the camp ceded to another entity.

At the end of June, the UN Security Council resolved to end the mission in Mali following a request by the junta that seized power in a coup in 2020.

The mission, deployed since 2013, had about 11,600 troops and 1,500 police officers in the West African country, whose withdrawal is scheduled to last until Dec. 31.

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