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Abidjan Exiting UN Mali Mission

FILE - Ivorian soldiers of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali on August 7, 2019 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast will gradually withdraw its contribution of military and police from a United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, according to a letter by its ambassador to the U.N., after Bamako detained 46 of its soldiers in July.

Ivory Coast has informed the U.N. it has stopped rotating troops and would not replace personnel in the peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in August 2023, according to a letter to a senior U.N. peacekeeping official dated Nov. 11 which was seen by Reuters.

The decision was confirmed by two senior Ivory Coast security sources. MINUSMA and the governments of Mali and Ivory Coast did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mali accused the detained Ivorian soldiers of being mercenaries. Ivory Coast says they were part of a security and logistics contingent working under the peacekeeping mission and has made repeated pleas for their release.

Mali has for a decade relied on regional allies and peacekeepers to contain an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands of people and taken over large areas of the center and north.

More recently, Bamako has hired and deployed members of the Russian-owned Wagner Group mercenaries, filling its ranks with convicts and others accused of war crimes in a series of African States.