UN warns of resurgence of Mali jihadists

The United Nations` peacekeeping chief on Saturday warned of a resurgence of Islamist fighters in northern Mali, where several UN peacekeepers have been killed in a wave of recent attacks.

AFP| Updated: Sep 28, 2014, 01:58 AM IST

The United Nations` peacekeeping chief on Saturday warned of a resurgence of Islamist fighters in northern Mali, where several UN peacekeepers have been killed in a wave of recent attacks.

"I believe it`s indisputable that terrorists and jihadists and probably also traffickers have regained strength" in northern Mali, Herve Ladsous told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

In September alone, ten Chadian soldiers serving in the UN peace mission in Mali were killed by explosive devices. 

More than 20 blue helmets have died in attacks since July 2013, and about one hundred have been wounded in attacks.

Ladsous said French troops had pulled many of their troops in the north and that Malian forces had yet to deploy there, leaving the UN forces to patrol the remote area.

"And so we are their target, and that is obviously intolerable," said Ladsous following a meeting on the instability in Mali, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

He said the UN force in Mali would take a stronger defensive posture "going after attackers before they take action" and said more attack helicopters would be needed to strengthen the mission.

Islamist fighters aligned to Al-Qaeda occupied northern Mali for nearly one year, before they were driven out in a French-led military intervention in January 2013.

Some of the fighters took refuge in southern Libya, and are believed to have recently returned to Mali.

After the most recent attack on the Chadian contingent of the MINUSMA force, the Chadian government accused the UN of using its troops as a "shield" and demanded better protection for its forces.