UN: Over 40 militants killed in weekend counterattack by peacekeepers
The United Nations says over 40 militants, including a senior commander, were killed last week in clashes that ensued a major attack on a base housing peacekeepers in northern Mali.
Four UN peacekeepers were also killed on April 2, when their camp, mostly home to Chadian peacekeepers, in Aguelhok came under a heavy assault by suspected Takfiri terrorists.
A UN source, which gave a lower death toll among the militants, said back then that 20 out of about 100 assailants had been killed in a three-hour counterattack.
But Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the chief of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said on Monday that the death toll in question was roughly twice that number.
“As of today, we have counted more than 40 dead terrorists, including a right-hand man to Iyad Ag Ghaly, by the name of Abdallaye Ag Albaka,” Annadif said.
Ag Ghaly has been a senior militant leader of an al-Qaeda-linked shadowy group across the troubled region.
“The peacekeepers have inflicted a serious setback on the terrorists, that’s for sure, even though we are mourning the death of four” peacekeepers, Annadif said.
MINUSMA, whose deployment to Mali began in 2013, is a 15,000-strong mission. It has lost more than 140 members to hostile acts. Ten fatalities have been registered this year alone.
The force has been criticized in some quarters for failing to respond aggressively to the acts of militancy.
Takfiri terrorism broke out in Mali in 2012 before spreading to Burkina Faso and Niger.