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Spate of violent attacks in Mali draws UN rights office concern

14 April 2015 – The United Nations human rights office today said it is "deeply disturbed" at the series of violent attacks that have occurred in the Gao and Kidal regions of northern Mali, making an already precarious security situation more volatile.

"We also deplore the continued targeting of UN personnel and humanitarian workers in the country," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters at a press conference in Geneva this afternoon.

Ms. Shamdasani said the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines in the North African nation has become very worrying. "We urge all parties to the conflict in Mali to ensure the protection of civilians, including UN personnel and humanitarian workers."

Mostly recently, on Saturday, 11 April, two UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) national staff members were assaulted in Kidal town by three unidentified armed men. The day before, a civilian vehicle hit a mine or IED near Almoustarat in the Gao Region, seriously injuring two people. And on April 6, two peacekeepers were injured when a MINUSMA vehicle escorting a supply convoy hit an IED in Kidal.

On April 5, four rockets struck the town of Gao, causing the death of one woman and wounding three other people, including a four-year-old boy. And on 30 March, a group of armed men conducted a targeted attack against an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) vehicle in Gao, resulting in the death of one staff.

In total, since its establishment in 2013, MINUSMA has been attacked more than 60 times, causing more than 35 peacekeepers to be killed and a total of more than 200 casualties.

"We call on Government security forces to ensure that counter-terrorism operations are conducted in line with international human rights standards, and to avoid the excessive use of force, so as not to stoke further tensions and resentment among local inhabitants," Ms. Shamdasani said.

The High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein will continue following up closely with the Malian authorities on allegations of human rights violations and abuses which may have been committed during such operation.

"It is particularly important during the ongoing peace process for action to be taken to ensure that any human rights violations or abuses are promptly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice,' Ms. Shamdasani said, emphasizing that for peace to be secured and sustainable, there must be no impunity for any acts of violence, regardless of the perpetrators.

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