Five Malian soldiers die in helicopter crash: officials

Five Malian soldiers died Friday when their helicopter crashed in the centre of the war-torn west African nation, local government and army sources told AFP.

"The crash of a Malian army helicopter killed all five passengers, Malian soldiers. This happened near Sevare. The Malian army is in mourning," a local official from the Mopti regional administration told AFP.

A Malian military source confirmed the incident, saying a colonel was among the five dead and the cause was mechanical failure.

An African military official on the scene told AFP by telephone the helicopter had "partially caught fire".

"It happened 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Sevare. The helicopter was en route to the north. All the soldiers on board were killed in the accident. Yesterday, the same aircraft could not take off because of bad weather," the source added.

The town of Sevare is home to the only hard-topped landing strip in central Mali, used for moving military aircraft and troops involved in a French-led offensive to oust armed Islamists from northern Mali.

French and African troops launched the mission in January, driving militants from the major cities of the north which they occupied for several months last year.

© 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Apr 12, 2013