Mali rebel attack kills UN peacekeeper

Senegalese soldier killed and 10 others injured in rocket attack on joint French-UN military camp in Kidal.

UN peacekeepers have deployed across Mali's north in an effort to secure the country from armed rebels [Reuters]

At least one United Nations peacekeeper has been killed when a joint French-UN military camp in the northern Malian town of Kidal was hit by rocket fire, the UN mission said.

Olivier Salgado, a spokesman for the UN force, known as MINUSMA, said in a statement on Wednesday that between six and eight rockets been fired at the camp.

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

He said the Secretary-General reminded all parties of their responsibility to prevent against United Nations’ peacekeepers and expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the fallen peacekeeper.

Al Jazeera has learned that the slain soldier was from Senegal. Ten other people were injured in the attack.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for Tuesday’s assault, but armed rebels operating in Mali’s north have stepped up attacks on foreign forces in recent weeks.

Nine UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush on Friday

UN peacekeepers have deployed across Mali’s north in an effort to secure the country after separatists rebels took advantage of the power vacuum created by a coup in the capital in 2012 by seizing the northern regions.

The armed rebels were scattered by French forces early last year and elections have since been held. But there has been a marked increase in attacks in recent months as France moved its focus away from Mali towards a regional security mission.

Mali’s army was also forced to pull troops from the Kidal region in May after losing a battle following a botched attempt to seize the town from Tuareg separatists. Since then, only UN peacekeepers and a handful of French personnel are based there.

Speaking in Mali’s capital Bamako earlier on Tuesday, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said the reduction of French troops and the absence of Malian troops from the region was contributing to the upsurge of violence.

Instability in south Libya was also “a factor that plays a role in the fact that these jihadists…have restarted their activities. They have without doubt reacquired equipment,” Ladsous said.

The UN mission in Mali said 30 peacekeepers have been killed and 90 injured since the mission was established last July to stabilise Mali’s north.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies