Germany’s Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer confirmed today that 12 German peacekeepers had been injured in an attack in northern Mali. Speaking to reporters, she stated that three of the injured were in serious condition, with two in stable condition and the remaining one undergoing surgery. She said that the government’s thoughts and prayers were with the injured peacekeepers and their families, adding that she hoped that all of the injured would recover from their injuries.
The minister’s statement comes after MINUSMA, the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission to Mali, reported today that 15 peacekeepers had been injured following a vehicle-borne explosive attack on their temporary base near the village of Ichagara in the northern Gao region this morning. In a Twitter announcement, MINUSMA stated that the injured peacekeepers were being medically evacuated, but did not provide any further details. The Bundeswehr has since stated that the 12 German peacekeepers and one peacekeeper from another UN partner nation were evacuated to Gao by helicopter, with the German peacekeepers to be transported to Germany for further treatment as soon as possible.
MINUSMA head El-Ghassim Wane said on Twitter that he strongly condemned the “cowardly” attack, which he said was intended to hinder a return to peace and security in Mali. In addition to expressing his hopes that those injured would make a quick recovery, he said that “Nothing will undermine our determination to support Mali in the quest for peace”.
An internal UN report obtained by Der Spiegel on the attack says that the attack followed another attack the previous day on the peacekeepers’ convoy, which had been escorting Malian troops to the town of Mali. The first explosive attack had disabled one of the convoy’s vehicles, with the rest of the convoy forming a wagon fort to guard the stricken vehicle overnight. Around a hundred German peacekeepers were present at the site when the suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device rammed the fort before detonating.
The Bundeswehr has around 1,100 soldiers in Mali as part of MINUSMA, which aims to implement the 2015 Malian peace agreement and to stabilise Mali’s central regions. Earlier this month, MINUSMA head El-Ghassim Wane had warned that that Mali was now at a “critical juncture” following a second military coup in nine months, saying to the Security Council that there would be ”drastic consequences for the sub-region and beyond” should the situation in Mali continue to deteriorate.