At least five U.N. peacekeepers were killed in Mali in a suspected militant attack Sunday, Agence France-Presse reported. The attack came less than two weeks after five peacekeepers were killed May 19 when their convoy hit an explosive device. and they were ambushed by militants.
The convoy of peacekeepers was attacked 19 miles west of Sevaré, in the Southern Mopti region of the country, near Burkina Faso. Limited details were available surrounding the nature of the attack, and the nationalities of the dead had not yet been released.
“I most strongly condemn this abject crime which adds to other terrorist acts targeting our peacekeepers and which constitute crimes against humanity under international law,” mission head Mahamat Saleh Annadif said.
The peacekeeping mission in Mali has struggled with internal difficulties and frequent attacks from militants. The country’s northern region has found itself home to rebel groups and separatists that have continued to stage guerilla attacks after being largely ousted by the French military in a mission in 2013.
The problem of Islamic militants in the region has been growing, and some terror experts say the next formidable terror group will emerge from North Africa. The burgeoning terror threat became world news in November when a group of armed militants stormed a Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, the nation’s capital, taking guests and employees hostage.
The heavily armed gunmen opened fire on the hotel and took dozens of hostages, shouting “Allahu Akbar.” The siege lasted several hours, and 21 people were killed.
“Northern Mali has become a jihad front,” said a U.S. official who spoke to the Atlantic on the condition of anonymity. “People think of northern Mali like they thought of Chechnya in the late ’90s — as someplace where you can go and do your part to restore the caliphate.”