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Africa

Mali court sentences man to death over UN peacekeeper deaths

A court in Mali has sentenced a man to death over a 2019 attack that killed three United Nations peacekeepers, the peacekeeping mission MINUSMA said on Wednesday, without naming the defendant.

Mali, an arid West African country run by a military government, has been struggling for a decade with violence from armed non-state actors that has spread across the Sahel region despite costly international efforts to quash it.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, as MINUSMA is officially known, has been operational in the country since 2013. But the peacekeepers’ presence has not stopped armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) from attacking villages and towns, army bases and police stations.

The trial centred on an attack on five peacekeepers travelling through the rural commune of Siby in southern Mali, around 50km (31 miles) from the capital Bamako, on February 22, 2019. Three were killed, all from Guinea, which has one of the largest contingents in the mission.

Bamako’s criminal court on Tuesday convicted the man of acts of criminal association, murder, robbery and illegal possession of firearms in connection with the Siby attack, MINUSMA said.

Judges imposed the death penalty, which has not been carried out in Mali since a moratorium was placed on executions in 1980.

The MINUSMA statement did not name the convicted man and gave no details about what plea he entered. The court could not be reached for comment.

MINUSMA has deployed over 13,000 troops to contain the violence, which is concentrated in Mali’s north and centre.

The mission has recorded 281 deaths of MINUSMA personnel, many killed when convoys hit improvised explosive devices planted by the armed groups.

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