UNITED NATIONS, April 20 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Saturday night that the killing of an Egyptian peacekeeper in Mali may constitute war crimes.
The UN chief issued a statement in New York, giving details of a deadly bombing that took place on Saturday morning against a UN peacekeeping convoy in central Mali, close to the border with Burkina Faso.
The vehicles belonging to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) were en route between Douentza and Boni, in the Mopti region. One "blue helmet" from Egypt was killed and four others injured.
"MINUSMA peacekeepers responded, killing an assailant and apprehending eight others," Guterres said in the statement issued by his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. "The secretary-general expresses his deepest condolences to the family of the victim and to the Government of Egypt. He wishes a speedy recovery to those injured."
Attacks "targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law," the statement said. Guterres called on the Malian authorities to take "swift action to identify the perpetrators of this attack and bring them to justice."
Guterres reaffirmed that the latest casualties "will not diminish the resolve of the United Nations to continue supporting the people and the Government of Mali in their quest for peace and stability."
MINUSMA's mandate from the Security Council began after extremist militias seized control of northern Mali in 2012. After a failed coup, they were repulsed by French military action in the following year.
A UN-backed peace agreement in 2015 signed between the Mali government and various armed groups, failed to stabilize the febrile central and northern regions of the northwest African country.
Since 2013 when MINUSMA deployed, more than 190 peacekeepers have died in Mali, including close to 120 killed during hostilities, according to the UN report.