The African Union’s Mission to Mali and the Sahel says it is ready to assist with an investigation into Thursday’s attack that killed five United Nations peacekeepers from Chad.
Issaka Souare, special adviser to the AU Mission head Pierre Buyoya, called for the ongoing peace talks between the government in Bamako and armed groups to be expedited in order to stabilize the northern parts of the West African country.
Souare expressed condolences to the families and the people of Chad, and condemned the violence.
“[We] condemn with the highest energy possible these attacks because this is not tolerable, particularly at a time when the Malian government and armed groups are busy looking for ways to find a lasting solution to this conflict,” said Souare.
The AU mission’s military advisers work in close collaboration with the United Nations mission peacekeepers. They have a mandate to help restore law and order in Mali’s north in the former strongholds of armed groups.
Souare said the AU mission is ready to help find the perpetrators of the attack.
“We would be happy to provide any assistance with regards to the investigation to find and get to the bottom of these recurrent attacks targeting [those] we consider [to be] soldiers of peace,” said Souare.
Some Malians have expressed concern that attacks on peacekeepers will escalate following what they said has been a proliferation of armed groups in the north.
Souare concurred with that assessment, but added that a solution could be found at the peace talks.
He said some of the armed groups only engage in terrorist activities and are not interested in ensuring peace is restored.
Souare said once a peace agreement is reached, a distinction could be made between armed groups who want peace and those who want the conflict to continue.
“That is why it is necessary to have the peace process concluded with a peace agreement… [then, it] will be clear …those …[who] are only criminal and terrorists, elements that need to be sought and fought by all means,” said Souare.