German defense ministry confirms death of 2 personnel in Mali helicopter crash
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen confirmed late on Wednesday that two crew members aboard the recently crashed military helicopter had died in the air accident in Mali, Sputnik reported.
The helicopter came down in the afternoon around 40 miles north of the Malian city of Gao, which hosts a UN base. The personnel were part of a UN peacekeeping mission.
"We are now unfortunately certain that two soldiers in service of our country have lost their lives. Their mission was a contribution to our security," the minister told reporters at a briefing.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel have both extended their condolences to those affected.
Joachim Ruehle, deputy spokesman for the inspector general of the German armed forces, said the cause of the crash was still unclear but there was no indication that the Tiger-type combat helicopter had been shot down.
"The initial report of the crash came from a second, following helicopter. There was no distress signal from the affected crew. The crashed helicopter burned out… At this time, nothing points to outside interference," he said.
A spokesman for the UN secretary general said earlier that the search for the crashed aircraft had been complicated by fighting on the ground, which it was monitoring.