Several dozen Malian soldiers and Russian paramilitary fighters have arrived in the town of Tessalit, in the north of the country, where the UN mission will soon leave its camp, security and local officials told AFP on Friday .
“As part of the resumption of the UN mission camps in The Mali, “Our troops arrived in Tessalit on Thursday,” a military official from the north of this Sahel country told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Two local officials said dozens of soldiers and fighters from Russia’s Wagner paramilitary company were transported by a Malian army plane.
They joined the existing U.N. camp where soldiers previously maintained a small unit, one of the local officials said.
The measures are part of an ongoing security reconfiguration that began after the junta, which took power in 2020, ordered UN the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission is expected to leave by the end of 2023.
Armed actors are fighting for control of the territory and the handover of UN camps appears to be a major issue.
Tuareg-majority separatist groups, which made peace with the government in 2015, have recently taken up arms again, while the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) , also intensified its attacks on army positions.
Since August, MINUSMA has handed over several of its camps to the Malian authorities.
In the coming weeks, he will hand over others, notably those in the north such as Tessalit, Aguelhok and Kidal.
The army sent a large convoy towards Kidal at the beginning of the month.
The convoy is currently approximately 110 kilometers south of Kidal and was attacked en route.