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UN troops conduct airstrike against Mali fighters: Sources
Dutch United Nations peacekeeping forces have conducted an airstrike against Tuareg fighters in northern Mali, killing seven people, sources say.
The helicopter strike happened on Tuesday at the village of Tabankort, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of the city of Gao, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said in a statement issued later in the day.
The UN mission “was forced to use force in response to direct firing with heavy weapons on its peacekeeping soldiers,” the statement noted.
It was the first such raid since the UN deployed over 12,000 troops, including 380 Dutch forces, in the African country in 2013.
A spokesman for Tuareg fighters, who are engaged in peace talks with the Malian government, said they would halt security cooperation with the UN troops.
“There was no negotiation. There was no warning,” Moussa Ag Acharatoumane said, adding, “That was an error, and bombing our positions was also a very serious political error.”
MINUSMA was established after the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2100 on April 25, 2013. It is tasked with security-related operations in Mali.
Mali slid into chaos after President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup in March 2012.
The coup leaders said the move was in response to the government’s inability to contain a rebellion by Tuareg people in the north of the country.