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The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali on Saturday said it had left a ninth of its 12 bases as part of its forced withdrawal from the junta-led country battling separatist and jihadist rebellions. In June, the junta demanded that MINUSMA leave “without delay”, leading the UN Security Council to begin an unprecedented hasty pullout due to be completed by the end of the year. The Ansongo camp in northern Mali was handed over by MINUSMA’s bureau chief in the city of Gao, Hawa Ahmed Youssouf, to the authorities represented by local official Ahmed Ag Aklinine. “This closure is the ninth among the 12 MINUSMA bases,” the force said in a statement on social media. The Ansongo base, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Gao, was held by a contingent from neighbouring Niger. MINUSMA has been deployed in Mali since 2013 to prop up the West African nation as it faces jihadist rebels linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group as well as a Tuareg-led separatist revolt. But relations have deteriorated with the military rulers who seized power in 2020, with the accelerated withdrawal of more than 11,000 soldiers and 1,500 police officers exacerbating the rivalry between the army, jihadists and separatists for control of northern Mali. The separatists oppose MINUSMA handing the bases to the Malian authorities, saying it would contravene previous peace deals. The predominantly Tuareg groups have since resumed hostilities against the state.

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