united nations - Attackers killed one U.N. peacekeeper and seriously injured eight others Friday in Mali's Timbuktu region, an area where extremists continue to operate, the United Nations said.
The peacekeepers were part of a security patrol that was targeted first by an improvised explosive device and then by direct fire in the town of Ber, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
The United Nations joined the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, El-Ghassim Wane, in strongly condemning the attack, Dujarric said.
Mali has been ruled by a military junta since a 2020 coup against an elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. It has faced destabilizing attacks by armed extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group since 2013.
In 2021, France and its European partners who were engaged in the fight against extremists in Mali's north withdrew from the country after the junta brought in mercenaries from Russia's Wagner Group.
The United States warned Mali's military government in April that it would be 'irresponsible' for the United Nations to continue deploying its more than 15,000 peacekeepers unless the western African nation ended restrictions, including on operating reconnaissance drones, and carried out political commitments toward peace and elections in March 2024.
The warning came as the U.N. Security Council considers three options proposed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the peacekeeping mission's future: increase its size, reduce its footprint, or withdraw troops and police and turn it into a political mission. Its current mandate expires on June 30.
Dujarric said the peacekeeper killed on Friday was the ninth to die in Mali this year.
'This tragic loss is a stark reminder of the risks that peacekeepers in Mali and other places around the world face while tirelessly working to bring stability and peace to the people of Mali,' he said.