Unidentified militants opened fire Monday on two peacekeepers for the United Nations in Bamako, Mali’s capital, killing one and injuring another, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing security forces. The attack comes amid increased violence in the West African country since the ouster of former president Amadou Toumani Toure in a 2012 coup.
"Armed men, that we have not yet identified, shot at two peacekeepers, who were on board a U.N. vehicle on Monday night. One of them was killed and the other seriously wounded," a security source told AFP, adding: "We are seeking clarification and details. This has to be viewed as a terrorist act. The perpetrators are the enemies of peace."
A source from the U.N. peacekeeping mission, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), told AFP that the two soldiers were Bangladeshis. The peacekeepers were reportedly shot while they were traveling in car from Bamako airport to the southern part of the capital.
The latest attack comes just days after an armed man tried to set fire to a vehicle parked in front of the MINUSMA building in Bamako. A guard was shot by the assailant, while an anti-mine team neutralized two unexploded grenades. The U.N. strongly condemned the attack and called it a “serious crime under international law.”
The country is also witnessing the rise of a new extremist group called the Macina Liberation Movement (MLM), which has been terrorizing the locals and has targeted the U.N. peacekeepers, French troops and government forces. Earlier in May, the militants destroyed a mausoleum that had been a proposed U.N. World Heritage site. In April, the MLM attacked a U.N. barracks, killing three and injuring 16 civilians.
Since the ouster of Toure, the West African nation has been gripped with a violent civil war. At the time, rebels and Islamist militants forced the government forces to withdraw from northern Mali, which was later declared as an “Independent State of Azawad” by the militants. The U.N. and Algerian mediators helped the government sign a ceasefire agreement with the rebels in 2013 and again in February 2015. However, negotiations have suffered since the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of five rebel groups, has so far refused to accept any deal that does not identify “Azawad.”