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UN slams attack on peacekeepers in Mali

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-10-08 11:38

UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday condemned a deadly attack against peacekeepers in Mali and urged Malian authorities to bring the attackers to justice.

In the targeted assault, which occurred earlier in the day on a joint French-UN military camp in the northern Malian town of Kidal, one Senegalese peacekeeper was killed.

In a statement issued Tuesday night by his spokesman, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he "is outraged" by the attack, which also left another wounded.

"This attack brings the total number of casualties from hostile acts since 1 July 2013 to 31 peacekeepers killed and 91 peacekeepers wounded," said the statement.

Ban stressed that "a political solution is the only way to bring sustainable peace and stability to Mali."

The UN Security Council, for its part, also condemned the incident in the strongest terms and "called on the government of Mali to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice."

"The members of the Security Council underlined that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law," the 15-nation UN body said.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, but Islamist insurgents operating in Mali's north have stepped up attacks on foreign forces in recent weeks. Nine UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush last Friday.

Olivier Salgado, a spokesman for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said between six and eight rockets had been fired at the camp.

"The members of the Security Council reaffirmed the need to combat by all means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed," said the council press statement.

"The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law," it said.

The members of the Security Council reminded the armed groups operating in northern Mali of their commitment to cooperating with the United Nations to prevent attacks against peacekeepers in line with the declaration they signed on Sept. 16, 2014, in Algiers, capital of Algeria, said the statement.

The council members "expressed their deepest condolences" to the family of the peacekeeper killed, as well as to the government and people of Senegal, and to the MINUSMA, the statement said, adding that they paid tribute to the Senegalese peacekeepers for their sacrifices and continued efforts in the MINUSMA.

The Tuesday attack was the second one within one week on the UN peacekeepers in Mali.

On Friday, nine United Nations peacekeepers from Niger were killed in an ambush in northern Mali, the deadliest attack on the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, the UN mission said.

The UN peacekeepers' convoy came under direct attack from unidentified gunmen while travelling in the northeastern region, said a statement issued by the MINUSMA.

The UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, is currently in Mali to attend a memorial ceremony for the nine fallen peacekeepers from Niger, a UN spokesman told reporters here earlier Tuesday.

Ladsous is in Mali also to "show support for the Chadian contingent which has also suffered casualties in recent weeks," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a daily news briefing here.

The MINUSMA's core task is to support the political process in Mali, in close coordination with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Since a military coup struck Mali in March 2012, its northern region has served as a stronghold of the rebels.

Mali is now in the process of restoring democracy with the help of the United Nations and African regional bodies, including the African Union and the ECOWAS.

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