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Bodies of Ivorian peacekeepers killed in Mali return home

Ivorian soldiers carry coffins wrapped with United Nations flags out of a UN plane on January 22, 2021 at a military base in Abidjan   -  
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Ivory Coast

A UN plane flew the bodies of Ivorian peacekeepers killed in Mali home on Friday. 

On the ground, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, government officials, and the soldiers' families waited to receive them.

The head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Dennis Gyllensporre was full of praises for the fallen servicemen. 

"Their painful departure is a reminder of the challenges we face every day on the ground in Mali. I strongly condemn these attacks against Minusma staff. This is a worrying development, but we must not let such events discourage us", said Gyllensorre at the airport in Abidjan. 

The men were killed when their armored truck hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) during a patrol on the road to Timbuktu in central Mali on January 13. 

The makeshift bombs have also killed 60 UN peacekeepers in Mali.

"This will be an opportunity to express to all the families what we feel towards these brothers, your husbands, your parents who paid the ultimate price, their commitment for peace, for the country, and for the sub-region", said Ivorian prime minister Hamed Bakayoko. 

The 13,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping force has suffered 146 hostile deaths since it was first established in 2013.

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