Mali: An Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group in Mali has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 10 United Nations peacekeepers in the north of the country on Sunday.
Al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, JNIM) group said the attack was a response to Chadian President Idriss Deby’s revival of diplomatic relations with Israel. The JNIM statement frames the assault as part of a broader Al-Qaeda campaign intended to prevent the “normalization” of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital.
Titled “Al-Quds Will Never Be Judaized” and released in Arabic and English, JNIM’s statement is also in line with the language used by al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, after its raid on a hotel complex in Nairobi last week.
Ten UN peacekeepers from Chad were killed and at least 25 people were wounded while repelling an attack by armed assailants near a village in northern Mali on Sunday, the West African nation’s UN mission and the United Nations said.
The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear.
UN peacekeeping and French forces are stationed in northern Mali to combat well-armed jihadist groups considered a threat across Africa’s Sahel region.
The clash near Aguelhok occurred early on Sunday following an attack by assailants in many armed vehicles, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement.
“The Secretary-General reaffirms that such acts will not diminish the resolve of the United Nations to continue supporting the people and government of Mali in their efforts to build peace and stability in the country,” the statement said.
A 2015 peace deal signed by Mali’s Government and separatist groups has failed to end the violence.