Bomb kills two Egyptian peacekeepers in northern Mali

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Two United Nations peacekeepers were killed and five were seriously injured Tuesday when their vehicle struck a bomb in northern Mali, the UN mission said.

“This morning, an armored vehicle in a MINUSMA supply convoy hit a mine on the Tessalit-Gao highway,” MINUSMA said.

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An official with the UN mission said both fatalities were Egyptian.

The injured were evacuated after a rapid intervention force was sent to the scene, the mission said in a statement.

“MINUSMA strongly condemns this attack, which may constitute a war crime under international law, and notes with concern the frequent use by terrorist groups of improvised explosive devices to cripple the mission’s operations and impede the return to peace and stability,” it said.

“Mines and improvised explosive devices in Mali affect UN personnel, Malian defense and security forces and the communities we serve without distinction.”

MINUSMA - the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali - is one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operations, and one of its most dangerous.

It says 177 of its troops have died from hostile acts, including four in June. Eight peacekeepers were injured by a mine in the Timbuktu region on June 23.

MINUSMA’s full complement includes 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police.

The force’s mandate was extended by the UN Security Council for 12 months on June 29.

However, it will be without French air support, which has been refused by Mali, whose ruling junta is at odds with France.

Extremists joined a regional insurgency in northern Mali in 2012, and then extended their campaign to the center of the country and neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of civilians have died, more than two million have fled their homes, and economic damage to countries that are among the poorest in the world has been severe.

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