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UN peacekeepers retaliate to attacks in northern Mali

UN peacekeepers retaliate to attacks in northern Mali

Yvonne Williams

UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on Wednesday said it was forced to respond to direct attacks on its forces in Tabankort locality, 200 km from Gao in northern Mali.

“MINUSMA’s action was taken in conformity with its mandate which authorizes it to use force to protect civilians and its personnel in case of an attack or imminent danger,’’ the statement said.

Since Jan. 16, rival armed groups in northern Mali have been fighting over control of the strategic Tabankort locality.

The fighting has involved groups such as the Azawad Arab Movement, the Supreme Council for Azawad Unity and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.

MINUSMA said since the start of tension around Tabankort, it has not ceased making efforts to reduce the tensions, stop the fighting and appeal to parties to respect the ceasefire agreements and return to their initial positions.

“MINUSMA wishes to state that before retaliating, it shot several warning shots in the air towards the direction from where its troops were being attacked,” the statement affirmed,

“In spite of the warning shots, the attacks continued hence forcing MINUSMA helicopters to retaliate in order to protect the civilian population.

“MINUSMA regrets that its appeals were not heeded and deplores the continued fighting,’’ the statement concluded. (Xinhua/NAN)