The UN stabilisation mission in Mali known as MINUSMA announced Monday (Oct. 16) their pullout has started from two camps in the tense Kidal region.
The peacekeeping mission kicked off its withdrawal from Mali's northern region with the Tessalit and Aguelhok camps.
Anticipating the UN disengagement, the Malian army landed two aircrafts at one of the camps at Tessalit.
The army said the aircrafts came under fire from rebels during the landing.
It posted on social media that a single plane came under fire but managed to land and leave without too much difficulty after enemy positions were "neutralised" by the air force.
The UN peacekeepers cited the shooting as illustrating "the rapid deterioration in security conditions for the lives of hundreds of" its soldiers.
The MINUSMA has transferred 4 camps to Malian authorities since August. However, it is the withdrawal from camps in the region of Kidal and in the eponymous city, which is the fief of separatists’ fighters, that could be the most sensitive.
Northern Mali is the theatre of fighting between the Malian authorities, an alliance of groups seeking independence known as CMA and Al-Qaeda-linked group GSIM.
The UN withdrawal from northern Mali is supposed to end by December 31after 10 years of presence.
Camp departures have however exacerbated rivalries between armed actors in the region.