Two servicemen of the Royal Netherlands Air Force perished today in a Apache helicopter crash in Mali. This was just confirmed by the Chief of the Defence Forces General Tom Middendorp. Preliminary reports state that a mechanical failure was cause for the crash.
The Netherlands participates in a UN-mission working on peace and stability in Mali and protecting the local populace against islamic rebels. The Dutch detachment is based in Gao.
Update 20:22: General Middendorp says that the crash occured during an exercise about 50km north of Gao.
Update 21:10: According to MoD press release it was a live-fire exercise. A French attack helicopter was first at the scene after which Dutch Special Forces secured the area on the ground.
Update 21:12: Exact cause of the crash has not yet officially been confirmed. Investigation underway.
Update 21:57: Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on Twitter: “They worked for a free world and for that they paid the highest price. Great respect. Our thoughts go out to their loved ones.”