February 12, 2016: Terrorists kill peacekeepers in Mali

On February 12, 2016 five UN peacekeepers were killed when their base in northern Mali was hit by mortars, gunfire and a truck bomb at the hands of AQIM.

KIDAL, MALI – Foreign military deployments are always dangerous, more so when fighting terrorism is on the agenda.

When it comes to fighting terrorism some countries have advantages others do not. Take for instance the US. With its huge military, intelligence, and law enforcement resources it can do a lot to keep its citizens safe. No, it does not always get it ‘right’ but it does a pretty good job nonetheless.

Other countries are much less capable. This may be because of poverty, bad governance, a lack of resources to keep tabs on what is happening in its own territory or, more likely, a combination of those and other factors. Mali, a very poor West African nation (in fact it is ranked 175th out of 188 countries on the UN Development Programme’s 2016 Human Development Index), is a very good example of the other end of the spectrum.

As a consequence, back in 2013 France, the former colonial power in Mali, sent crack counter terrorism forces to Mali as what it called Operation Serval: this later morphed into Operation Barkhane, which had a larger geographical remit, taking in some of Mali’s neighbours which are also beset by jihadis. Inexplicably, Mali just asked the Danes, who are aiding the French, to leave their territory.

Hey Mali, ‘bonne chance’ defeating those jihadis! (Photo: By TM1972 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Regardless of where one stands on colonial‘ overseas counter terrorism military deployments, they remain very dangerous operations. Yes, they kill lots of jihadis but they too suffer losses.

On this day in 2016

Five UN peacekeepers were killed when their base in northern Mali was hit by mortars, gunfire and a truck bomb. Another 30 people were wounded in the attack in Kidal, home to Islamist terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

At about 7 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) the MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) base in Kidal was the target of a complex attack.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Mali representative of the U.N. secretary general

The terrorist violence in Mali and the region is alas showing no signs of abating. Neither is the far too frequent practice of staging military coups (the most recent in Mali was just last May). Asking the Europeans to leave does not strike me as a good decision and will do nothing to make Mali any better.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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