In the latest attacks against the United Nations mission in the sub-Saharan nation of Mali (MINUSMA), two more blue helmets were killed and one more U.N. peacekeeper was injured in a separate improvised explosive device (IED) blast.

The two blue helmets who died in the blast were from Sri Lanka. Several others were injured in the assault which took place near Douentza in the Mopti region. This sector has become rich with radical activities over the last 12 months. The U.N. peacekeepers were on patrol in the area at around 6 a.m., when their vehicle, part of a logistics convoy, hit an IED within the Mopti region.

These men who perished were a part of 14,000-strong military and police mission arranged by the U.N. for Mali since 2013. The force has been used in the area to counter jihadist activity. The goal is to implement a buffer zone between the Mali troops and terrorist organizations operating in the remote north of the region.

France deployed a detached force to Mali which would run counter-terrorism operations to battle the jihadists operating throughout Mali. One mission for the U.N., as well as providing security to Mali, was to develop its security forces.

This U.N. mission has since become the bloodiest on Earth as just last week ten Chadian peacekeepers were killed. At least 25 others were injured in an assault on a U.N. camp in Aguelhok, in northern Mali, on Sunday. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) took responsibility for Sunday’s attack, what some interpreted as one of the deadliest attacks against the U.N. mission since the operation was established.

There was a peace accord signed in 2015 between the government and the armed groups, but the implementation has been slow. The attacks are continuing within the central and northern parts of the country. The armed groups have since split and several smaller units now exist conducting cross-border activities. That only facilitates their operational capacities and enhances their roots in northern Mali.

AQIM did not take responsibility for the earlier attack. Several insurgency groups are operating within the region and it could have been any one of them.

One thing is sure, the attacks in Mali are on the rise and the U.N. peacekeepers are the prime victims. The challenge is, what further can the U.N. do to counter the loss of innocent lives and preserve its staff while operating in this savage climate?

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