U.S. Markets closed

UK to send 250 troops to Mali for peacekeeping operations

Britain's Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt leaves Downing Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is to send 250 troops to the troubled African nation of Mali next year helping take part in the world's deadliest peacekeeping operation.

The United Nations said in February 177 people deployed in Mali have been killed since 2013.

"In one of the world’s poorest and most fragile regions it is right that we support some of world's most vulnerable people and prioritize our humanitarian and security efforts in the Sahel," defense minister Penny Mordaunt said.

"UK service personnel will work with our partners in the region to help promote peace by combating the threat of violent extremism and protecting human rights in Mali."

The largely Saharan nation has been in turmoil since Tuareg separatists and allied jihadists took control of more than half the country in a rebellion in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year.

A 2015 peace deal signed by Mali’s government and separatist groups has failed to end the violence. Islamists have also staged assaults on high-profile targets in the capital, Bamako, and in neighboring Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

French forces intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive back fighters who had hijacked a Tuareg uprising a year earlier, and some 4,000 French troops remain there. The U.N. Security Council then deployed peacekeepers, which have been targets of a concerted guerrilla campaign.


(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Michael Holden)