Updated July 27
Two pilots died after a German army helicopter assigned to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) crashed on Wednesday, July 26, the Bundeswehr confirmed.
Bundeswehr deputy inspector-general Vice-Admiral Joachim Rühle said no emergency call was made by the crew and the initial report of the crash came via a second accompanying helicopter. He said the crashed helicopter burned and there were no survivors.
Rühle said the cause of the crash is unknown, but “outside factors” were not suspected.
Earlier, MINUSMA spokesperson Ahmad Makaila told dpa that the Eurocopter Tiger helicopter went down around 12:30 GMT near the town of Tabankort in the Gao region of northern Mali.
A team of investigators is on its way to Gao to investigate the cause of the accident, Rühle said, adding that routine helicopter operations have been suspended.
A UN source in Gao told AFP the helicopter went down in the Ilouk area. The source described the crash as “an accident” and added that there was nothing to suggest that the aircraft was targeted or hit by fire from the ground.
MINUSMA spokesperson Farhan Haq said the mission sent a team to secure the site, check for possible casualties and investigate the cause of the crash, AFP reported.
Haq said the helicopter had been monitoring fighting in the area.
Around 875 German troops and eight helicopters are stationed in Mali, part of the 12,000-strong MINUSMA force attempting to stabilise the country.
The MINUSMA peacekeeping mission which began in 2013 is considered one of the world’s most dangerous UN deployments.