2 Dead After German Army Helicopter Crashes in Mali on UN Mission
Two German army pilots have died after their helicopter crashed near Gao, eastern Mali. At the time of the crash, the helicopter was monitoring "confrontations", Deutsche Welle reported.
The Tiger type army combat helicopter with two pilots onboard crashed for unknown reasons around 12:20 GMT/UTC about 70 kilometers (43 miles) northeast of Gao in eastern Mali, the Bundeswehr said on Wednesday.
"Onboard the helicopter were two service members, who died in the crash," the Bundeswehr said in a statement.
The German soldiers were taking part in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The German military said UN forces had been dispatched to the crash site to carry out an investigation.
UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said that the helicopter had been monitoring ground "confrontations," which means the site of the accident must be secured before MINUSMA teams can access it.
Initial information suggests the crash appeared to be an accident and there were no signs of attack. German news magazine "Der Spiegel" reports that the Bundeswehr suspects a technical fault to have caused the crash.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the news of the deaths filled him "with great sadness" and that his thoughts were with the pilots' relatives. He also emphasized that Germany's mission in Mali was "an important contribution towards stabilizing the situation in Mali," according to a press statement.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen also expressed their condolences.
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