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British soldiers engage with terrorist fighters in Mali

British soldiers deployed on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, West Africa, have killed two armed terrorist fighters after being engaged by small arms fire while on patrol.

The troops were engaged by the terrorist group while on patrol on 20 October. They returned fire killing two of the fighters. There were no UK or UN force causalities.

“UN peacekeepers from the British contingent of MINUSMA (LRRG) travelling from Gao to Ménaka on a security patrol repelled an attack by two armed individuals. The UN peacekeepers vigorously retaliated, neutralizing the two individuals,” confirmed a UN Spokesperson.

This is the first time UK troops have come under fire in Mali, and in fact since combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014.

Following a search of the area, the British troops found a cache of weapons including an AK47, a machine gun, 100 rounds of ammunition and a radio.

This operation shows how the UK Armed Forces are stepping up and making a meaningful contribution to the UN’s peacekeeping effort, particularly toward protecting civilians by disrupting dangerous terrorist groups in West Africa.

The UK Task Group in Mali includes troops from the Queen’s Dragoon Guards and the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Violent extremists in Mali, believed to include Islamic State of the Greater Sahel (ISGS), are causing severe instability and hindering development in Mali and across the Sahel. The Sahel is one of Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions, with high levels of violence and poverty.  

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), with significant support from the UK Armed Forces, is working hard to deter and disrupt these threats.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “This is an important reminder that as we broaden the focus of Defence to State based threats in new domains like cyber and space, we still rely on our Armed Forces to apply lethal forces in close contact with our enemies.”