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Guard wounded in attack on UN personnel in Mali’s capital


maliA militant opened fire on a United Nations residence in the Malian capital Bamako on Wednesday, wounding a civilian guard and damaging vehicles, the organisation’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission said.

The assailant attempted to set fire to one of the force’s vehicles parked in front of the residence housing troops in the city’s southeastern Faso Kanu neighbourhood around 2:30 am (0230 GMT), the force said in a statement.

Before escaping, he shot and wounded the guard and then opened fire on the building and parked UN-marked cars, the statement added.

“MINUSMA condemns in the strongest terms this attack against its staff and property, which constitutes a serious crime under international law,” the mission said.

“It calls on the Malian authorities to make every effort to identify those responsible for this act and bring them to justice.”

The statement said members of UNMAS, the mission’s mine-clearing service, had been dispatched to defuse two unexploded grenades found at the scene.

The attack came two months after three locals and two Europeans died when gunmen stormed a nightclub in the first Islamist attack targeting westerners in Bamako, claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked group of Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

With more than 40 peacekeepers killed since its inception in 2013, MINUSMA is considered the most dangerous UN mission in the world.

The country’s restive north has been plagued by violence by jihadist groups that seized control of the region from Tuareg rebels before being routed by a French-led international intervention that began in 2013.

A suicide bomber struck a UN barracks in Ansongo in April, killing two civilians and wounding nine peacekeepers from Niger in an attack also claimed by Belmokhtar’s militia.

Despite peaceful elections after the French operation, the country remains deeply divided and the north has seen an upsurge in attacks by pro-government militias and the Tuareg-led rebellion known as the CMA.

The government and several armed groups signed a peace accord last week in a ceremony in Bamako attended by numerous heads of state but missing the crucial backing of the CMA.

The Algerian-led international mediation team in the peace process said in a statement on Wednesday it was launching a series of consultations in Algiers to establish conditions for the “completion of the signing process”.

The team has appointed a group of experts to set out a timetable for the implementation of the agreement, it said.

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