UNITED NATIONS, Jan 12: U.N. peacekeepers in Mali should have a mandate to confront terrorist groups threatening a fragile process, the West African country’s foreign minister said Monday, says an AP report.
Abdoulaye Diop said Malian security forces are on the front lines in the battle against terrorist groups but “cannot by themselves confront this phenomenon.” He urged the Security Council to consider bolstering the operational capacity of the U.N. mission “to adapt to this security context.”
He declined to offer specifics but said Mali fears becoming a convergence point for various terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, which has a presence to the north in Libya and Boko Haram, which operates in Nigeria.
Various Islamic extremists groups operate in northern Mali, including al-Qaida’s North Africa branch. The groups continue to carry out attacks against U.N. peacekeepers nearly three years after they were pushed out of cities and town in northern Mali by French forces.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said hardly a day goes by without U.N. forces in Mali getting attacked by improvised explosive devices.
The attacks have forced the mission to direct two-thirds of its infantry capacity to protecting itself, seriously hindering its ability to carry out tasks meant to bolster the peace process, according to a report by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month.
The U.S. military has stepped in to help the U.N. mission counter IEDs, while several European countries staff an intelligence cell in Mali that analyzes input from unarmed drones, sensor-equipped attack helicopters and special forces.