160 UN peacekeepers in Mali desert over pay dispute

A group of 160 Chadian troops from the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali have deserted their posts in a dispute over pay and conditions, a military source and the soldiers themselves said Sept. 17.

A Chadian army captain claiming to be the leader of the deserters said his men had left their posts in the northeastern town of Tessalit overnight from Sept. 16 to Sept. 17 and were heading to the city of Gao. “There are 160 of us. We left the Amachache camp in Tessalit to claim better living conditions and demand our wages too,” said the officer who did not wish to be named.

The 2,000 Chadian soldiers of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) were at the forefront of a French-led military intervention launched in January to oust Islamist rebels who had taken over northern Mali in the chaos following a coup.

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