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African, UN forces merge in Mali

UN peacekeepers marked the start of the 12,000-strong peacekeeping mission Monday in Mali.

Malin Palm /REUTERS

UN peacekeepers marked the start of the 12,000-strong peacekeeping mission Monday in Mali.

BAMAKO, Mali — An African force was formally transformed into a United Nations peacekeeping mission at a ceremony in Mali’s capital on Monday, six months after French and African troops launched a military intervention to take back the country’s north from Al Qaeda-linked rebels.

The roughly 6,200 African troops, whose effectiveness in the field was hampered by major logistical lapses including units who were sent to Mali without weapons, will be folded into the Integrated United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Mali, or MINUSMA. The force is expected to grow to more than 12,600 peacekeepers.

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‘‘The composition of the MINUSMA is going to grow gradually in coming months,’’ said Bert Koenders, a Dutch politician who is heading the mission.

In April, the UN Security Council authorized an 11,200-strong peacekeeping force and 1,440-member international police to replace the 6,000-member African-led mission. The force is being led by military commander Major General Jean Bosco Kazura, a Rwandan who was formerly head of the Rwandan Defense Forces Combat Training Center.

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