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An Airbus A400M on the runway in Cologne
An Airbus A400M carrying three injured soldiers touched down in CologneImage: Henning Kaiser/dpa/picture alliance
ConflictsAfrica

Injured Bundeswehr soldiers arrive in Germany

June 26, 2021

The three most seriously injured in a car bomb attack in northern Mali have returned to Germany. A second transport aircraft evacuating the remaining injured soldiers reportedly arrived several hours later.

https://p.dw.com/p/3vbIz

The first members of a group of a dozen Bundeswehr soldiers who were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in Mali arrived in Germany on Saturday.

An A400M aircraft carrying the three most seriously injured soldiers, along with three others, landed in Cologne in the afternoon.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said the three injured soldiers were in stable condition and would be treated at the Bundeswehr Central Hospital in Koblenz.

An Airbus A310 carrying the remaining six injured troops landed in Stuttgart on Saturday night. The wounded soldiers on that flight are being transported to the Bundeswehr hospital in Ulm, according to the German Defense Ministry.

The second flight had reportedly been a transport between Germany and Niamey, the capital of Niger, where the Bundeswehr operates an air transportation hub and a field hospital in support of the UN mission in Mali.

How were the soldiers injured?

The soldiers were serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali when they were wounded Friday by a suicide car bomb that hit their patrol approximately 180 kilometers (112 miles) northeast of Gao.

Twelve were German and the Belgian Ministry of Defense has confirmed a Belgian soldier was also among those injured. 

Bundeswehr soldiers in Mali
There are some 1,100 Bundeswehr soldiers in MaliImage: Kay Nietfeld/dpa/picture alliance

Perilous mission in Mali

The 12 injured Bundeswehr soldiers were in Mali as part of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The 13,000-strong mission is comprised of some 1,100 Bundeswehr soldiers.

Mali is considered the deadliest UN mission in the world. Since 2012, the West African country has been without a stable government.

The German and UN flags fly side by side in Mali
The German and UN flags fly side by side in MaliImage: Arne Immanuel Bänsch/dpa/picture alliance

The lack of a strong state and general lawlessness has given rise to the omnipresence of violent jihadists and competing militia groups.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. The conflict has spilled over into neighboring countries and there are fears the crisis will continue to grow as Mali faced its second coup within a year in May.

German politicians react 

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier described being "shaken" by the attack.

"My thanks and the thanks of all of us go to the soldiers for their dangerous mission, in which they risk life and limb every day in the fulfillment of their duties," he said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said: "Mali and the Sahel must be freed from the curse of terrorism."

ar/nm (AFP, dpa)

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