First soldiers injured in Mali attack on way home to Germany for care

BERLIN (dpa): The first members of a group of 12 Bundeswehr soldiers injured in a suicide attack in the West African country of Mali started their return to Germany on Saturday, according to sources in the military.
They were injured after a suicide bomber triggered a car bomb on Friday morning. There were at least 13 injuries reported among the soldiers in the German-led UN patrol north of the city of Gao in Mali – 12 Germans and one Belgian – according to dpa sources.
A first medical evacuation flight took off from Gao. The plane is expected at Cologne airport later in the day. From there, the blue helmet soldiers are to be taken to the Bundeswehr Central Hospital in Koblenz.
The A400M aircraft is reportedly carrying three seriously injured soldiers, as well as those injured who have to be transported lying down.
In the meantime, a second Airbus took off from Cologne, heading towards Niamey in Niger, where the Bundeswehr has a centre for treating the wounded from Mali. The soldiers it picks up there are then to be flown to Stuttgart, from where they will then head to Ulm for treatment.
Friday’s attack was the worst to date on German troops in the West African country. Around 900 German troops are currently deployed within the UN’s MINUSMA stabilization mission to the country, most of them at Camp Castor near Gao, which lies almost 1,000 kilometres to the north-east of Bamako.
Mali has long suffered attacks by Islamist terrorist groups. In 2013, French troops prevented a march on Bamako. There have recently been two coups in the country.