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Egypt will "temporarily suspend" its participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Mali after seven of its troops died in attacks this year, the UN mission MINUSMA said on Friday.
Egypt signalled its concerns at UN headquarters in New York this week, the mission said in a statement.
"We have been informed that, in consequence, the Egyptian contingent would temporarily suspend its activities in MINUSMA from August 15," said the statement, without detailing how long the suspension would last.
MINUSMA -- the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali -- was launched in 2013 to help one of the world's poorest countries cope with a bloody jihadist campaign.
It is one of the UN's biggest peacekeeping operations, with 17,609 troops, police, civilians and volunteers deployed as of April, according to the mission's website.
It is also one of the most dangerous UN missions, with 275 fatalities from attacks, accidents or other causes, according to the website.
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Of these, 177 deaths have come from hostile acts, 10 of them since January.
The latest attack against the Egyptian contingent was on July 5, when two peacekeepers were killed and five seriously hurt near Gao, in northern Mali.
A UN official in Bamako said Egypt contributed 1,035 out of the total 12,261 UN peacekeeping troops in Mali.
"It is one of the mission's biggest contingents," he said.
The announcement comes at a time when Mali's ruling junta is wrestling with a bloody jihadist insurgency and friction with international partners.
The UN Security Council renewed MINUSMA's mandate for one year on June 29, although the junta opposed requests to allow freedom of movement for rights' investigators with the mission.
On Thursday, Mali announced it was suspending all rotations by MINUSMA troops and police for reasons of "national security".
Troops from France's Barkhane operation are due to complete their pullout from Mali in the coming weeks -- a departure sparked by a bustup between Paris and the junta which took power in September 2020.
The junta stirred French anger over delays in its pledge to restore civilian rule, and then wove closer ties with the Kremlin, bringing in paramilitaries that France says are mercenaries from the controversial pro-Kremlin Wagner group.
The French withdrawal is likely to have an operational impact for MINUSMA, as French air power has been a major source of support.
A western diplomat whose country supplies troops to MINUSMA said that the "hindrances" to the mission "are clearly going to make several contributing countries question their commitments."
"Some contingents were present in Mali because Barkhane was there," Ornella Moderan, a researcher at the South African-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) told AFP in February.
"With the French troops going, will the Germans, the English or the Swedes be staying?" shed asked.
Mali's security problems began with a regional insurrection in the north in 2012 that was abetted by Islamist militants.
The jihadists, after being scattered by French military intervention, regrouped to move into the centre of the country, inflaming long-standing ethnic resentments, and mounting cross-border raids into neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger.
Across the region, the violence has claimed thousands of lives, prompted more than two million people to flee their homes and inflicted devastating economic damage on three countries that rank among the poorest in the world.
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