The Sandbag Times Issue No:58

sandbagtimes

The Veterans Magazine

NEWS

AUGUST EDITION

British Troops to Join Force

Countering Mali Militants

Story: The Guardian - Jason Burke Africa correspondent

Image: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

British troops will be deployed in

Mali next year to join in the world’s

deadliest peacekeeping operation,

the Ministry of Defence has announced.

The 250-strong force will provide a longrange

reconnaissance capability for the

United Nations deployment in the troubled

African country which has struggled

to decisively counter Islamic militants,

armed separatists and traffickers.

The deployment is likely to place British

troops in combat situations, facing risks of

ambushes and roadside bombs in remote

and hostile environments.

The UN is operating alongside a Frenchled

force that has been fighting Islamic

militants in Mali for six years. The mission

is known as one of the most dangerous undertaken

by the organisation anywhere in

the world. More than 170 people deployed

by the UN have been killed there between

2013 and February.

Penny Mordaunt, the defence minister,

said it was right that “in one of the world’s

poorest and most fragile regions we

support some of world’s most vulnerable

people … UK service personnel will work

with our partners in the region to help

promote peace by combating the threat of

violent extremism and protecting human

rights in Mali”.

Mali, which occupies a key location in the

centre of the restive Sahel, was plunged

into chaos in 2012 when Tuareg separatists

and Islamic extremists joined forces

to take control of much of the north of

the country. French forces intervened the

following year to halt their advance and

4,000 French troops remain there.

The UN security council later deployed

peacekeepers, which have been targets of

a fierce insurgent campaign. A 2015 peace

deal signed by Mali’s government and

separatist groups failed to end the violence

and instability has since spread across the

region.

More than 200,000 people have been

displaced in Mali since the start of 2019

and about 600 killed in a series of militia

attacks. Islamic extremists have staged assaults

on high-profile targets in the capital,

Bamako, and in neighbouring Burkina

Faso and Ivory Coast. There is also violence

in neighbouring Niger, where four

US servicemen were killed in an ambush

by Islamic militants in 2017.

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