Estonia doubles Mali unit ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonia will double the number of troops sent to the UN and EU missions in Mali, from 9 to 18 soldiers.

Eight of the new soldiers sent to the troubled African nation will be tasked with gathering information and reconnaissance for the UN. ETV reports that the reason behind the surge may lie in Estonia's ambitions to become a non-permanent UN Security Council member.

Currently Estonia has seven soldiers as part of EU training mission and two officers with the UN MINUSMA mission.

“Of course, lobby work towards the aim is easier if Estonia is active in the UN by participating in various UN-led missions,” Defense Minister Sven Mikser said.

The government forces, trained by the EU, are fighting Islamic extremists and ethnic Tuareg rebels, both based in the north of the country.

Over the weekend, 13 people, including five UN peacekeepers, were killed on an attack in a hotel in Mali. Experts said the conflict has cooled, but not by much, after a ceasefire agreement was signed in June.

Besides Mali, Estonia has 40 soldiers as part of the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon.

Editor: J.M. Laats