BAMAKO, Mali ( Associated Press) — The United Nations mission in Mali says Egypt will withdraw its troops from the West African country in mid-August, citing deadly attacks on its peacekeepers.
Seven Egyptian peacekeepers have been killed in Mali so far this year, according to authorities.
READ MORE: Egypt presses for calm after the outbreak of hostilities in Gaza
Olivier Salgado, the spokesman for the UN mission in Mali, confirmed on Friday that Egypt will suspend its activities in Mali.
“We confirm that Egypt, through its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, expressed concern earlier this week about the increase in attacks against its blue helmets that escort the convoys that supply our bases in central and northern Mali. . These attacks have caused the death of 7 Egyptian soldiers since the beginning of the year,” he said in a statement. “We have been informed that, as a result, the Egyptian contingent will temporarily suspend its activities within MINUSMA from August 15.”
The UN said the security of its peacekeepers is a priority.
UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said later at the UN headquarters in New York: “We deeply respect and appreciate the significant service and sacrifice of Egypt and other countries contributing uniformed personnel to our missions, operating in extremely difficult and often dangerous conditions.”
He said the UN is also dealing with the Malian government on a number of issues, including the suspension of rotations in the UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA.
Egypt currently contributes around 1,030 soldiers and 24 staff officers to the UN mission in Mali.
Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Extremist rebels were ousted from power in cities in northern Mali with the help of a French-led military operation, but regrouped in the desert and began attacking the Malian army and its allies. Insecurity has worsened with attacks in the northern and central regions against civilians and UN peacekeepers.
The UN force has said more than 250 of its peacekeepers and personnel have been killed since 2013, making Mali the deadliest of dozens of UN peacekeeping missions around the world.