Bomb kills two Egyptian peacekeepers in central Mali: UN

Bomb kills two Egyptian peacekeepers in central Mali: UN
An improvised bomb killed two Egyptian members of the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission near the town of Douentza, central Mali, where jihadist activity is rampant.
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UN peacekeepers in Mali are often targeted by jihadist insurgents in the Sahel country [Getty]

Two UN peacekeepers were killed and two others injured on Friday after an improvised bomb exploded in central Mali, a spokesman for the MINUSMA mission tweeted.

The soldiers were part of the Egyptian contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission, a security official said.

"The head of MINUSMA condemned the attack," spokesman Olivier Salgado posted.

He said the incident took place near the town of Douentza, on the road to Timbuktu.

On Wednesday, a Jordanian blue helmet was killed in an attack on his convoy in Kidal, in northern Mali.

With 13,000 members, MINUSMA - the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali - is one of the UN's biggest peacekeeping operations, and also one of its most dangerous.

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It says 174 troops have died from hostile acts.

Improvised explosive devices are a weapon of choice for jihadists against MINUSMA and Malian forces. They also kill many civilians.

Seven Togolese peacekeepers were killed in December by an IED explosion between Douentza and Sevare.

On Friday, the Egyptian peacekeepers were in an escort of a dozen UN vehicles accompanying a convoy of civilian trucks carrying fuel, Salgado said.

Such convoys can stretch for miles.

A mine exploded as the convoy passed, Salgado said.

Mines can be detonated on contact or remotely.

Central Mali is a hotbed of violence and jihadist activity that has spread from the north to the centre of the country, and then to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Thousands of civilians and combatants have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

Two reports published this week - one from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and another from the human rights division of MINUSMA - express alarm at the intensification of the violence in central Mali.