United Nations, March 2 (IANS) UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have condemned the killing of four Bangladeshi peacekeepers by a roadside bomb in Mali.
The Council on Thursday condemned “in the strongest terms” the attack on the UN convoy that killed the four peacekeepers and injured several others in central Mopti region of Mali on Wednesday. It warned in a press statement that attacks on peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law.
Guterres called for the prosecution of the attackers and said: “These cowardly acts will not deter the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali’s (MINUSMA) determination to support the Malian authorities in their efforts to protect civilians and accompany the Malian people in their quest for peace and stability.”
The UN has not identified the attackers.
The killing of the peacekeepers comes amid growing concern over the rising attacks on peacekeepers.
In January, a Pakistani peacekeeper was killed by armed rebels who ambushed a convoy of peacekeepers in South Kivu province of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Fifteen Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed in that country in December.
Currently Bangladesh is the second highest troop contributor to the UN, sending more than 7,000 to UN peacekeeping missions Of them, 1,678 are with MINUSMA.
The Sahel region of Africa, where Mali is located, is facing a problem with jihadist militancy as al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) making inroads.
A panel appointed by Guterres to look into rising fatalities among peacekeepers issued a scathing report in January accusing the UN of putting peacekeepers at risk through “lack of will, determination, and accountability”.
It said that UN peacekeepers should take a vigorous and proactive approach and not fear using force. It noted that “the blue helmet and the United Nations flag no longer offer ‘natural’ protection.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])