Two Red Cross employees have been killed after their vehicle was attacked in the Kayes region in western Mali, the Malian Red Cross has said.
A driver and a worker from the Netherlands Red Cross died on Wednesday after armed men on motorcycles opened fire on their vehicle, which carried the Malian Red Cross emblem, the statement said, citing eyewitnesses.
“The Malian Red Cross condemns in the strongest terms this incident, which undermines the humanitarian mission to vulnerable populations,” it said in a statement.
It said the team, which was on a humanitarian mission, was attacked in the evening on the road linking the town of Koussane to the city of Kayes.
A project coordinator and accountant were also inside the vehicle.
Nouhoum Maiga, secretary general of the Malian Red Cross, told AFP the driver was Malian and the Netherlands Red Cross employee was Senegalese.
He said the armed men were likely robbers rather than terrorists.
“It is not the Red Cross as such that was targeted,” he said, adding that the organization has previously experienced robberies and carjackings, but no recent killings.
He said the attackers took the vehicle and equipment, before later abandoning the vehicle.
Mali has since 2012 been wracked by an extremist insurgency by groups linked to al-Qaeda and the so-called ISIS terrorist group. Vast swathes of the country are in thrall to myriad rebel groups and militias. The country also suffers from high crime rates.
Also on Wednesday, a UN peacekeeper of Jordanian nationality was killed in a “terrorist attack” in the north of the country, peacekeeping force MINUSMA said.
The Kayes region, which borders Senegal, is seen as less violent than the country’s center, north or so-called three-border zone with Burkina Faso and Niger.
In January, French charity Medecins du Monde said it was suspending medical aid to thousands of patients in two remote northeastern areas of Mali over deteriorating security.
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