BAMOKO, Mali – The UN will continue its peacekeeping mission in Mali, despite the deaths of another thee peacekeepers on Friday.

Already fifteen ‘Blue Helmets’ have died in the West African country this year, making the Mali mission the deadliest of those that the United Nations is involved in.

More than 180 peacekeepers have been killed in Mali since 2013.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council on Saturday condemned in the strongest terms the surprise attack on vehicles of the peacekeeping mission which took place on Friday.

All three of the ‘Blue Helmets killed were from Guinea, whiole another was injured.

The ambush took place in the area of Siby, near the capital, Bamako.

Mr. Guterres and the members of the Security Council expressed their solidarity with the people of Guinea and with those who risk their lives serving in the mission.

Guinea is the eighth largest contributor of troops to MINUSMA, with 869 women and men serving in it. The total number of ‘Blue Helmets’ serving in the mission is 16,227.

The UN chief cautioned that any attack against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and called on the Malian authorities to “spare no effort in identifying and swiftly bringing to justice the perpetrators of this attack.”

After a failed coup six years ago, a proliferation of armed groups fighting government forces and their allies in the centre and northern areas of the country has plunged the country into conflict.

The UN chief reaffirmed in his statement on Saturday the determination of MINUSMA to “continue implementing its mandate in support of the people and Government of Mali in their quest for peace”.

This was echoed that by the UN Security Council members who stressed that “these heinous acts will not undermine their determination to continue to support the peace and reconciliation process in Mali”.

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