Three UN soldiers killed, two hurt in landmine blast


Bamako: Three UN peacekeepers in northern Mali were killed Thursday and another two injured when their vehicle struck a "mine or an improvised explosive device," the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said.

The blast occurred at around 1430 GMT when the vehicle was escorting "a logistical convoy" north of Kidal, on a highway between Tessalit and Aguelhok, it said in a statement, adding that the toll was still provisional.

"Following the explosion, three peacekeepers lost their lives and two others were injured, according to a provisional toll," MINUSMA said, adding the survivors were being taken to Kidal.

Interim UN mission head Koen Davidse said he vigorously condemned "such despicable acts whose sole aim is to destabilise the country and jeopardise the ongoing peace process in Mali."

He said MINUSMA remained determined to work to bring peace to the country and warned that attacks on peacekeepers could be construed as war crimes.

The attack followed a visit on Sunday by 15 ambassadors from the UN Security Council to pledge support for efforts to bring peace to Mali.

The show of support came after an appeal by Sahel region states Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger for help in their battle against jihadist violence.

The five countries have asked for funding and logistical support to enable the launch of a joint first operation from the end of this month against the jihadists.