Two Belgian soldiers deployed in Mali were injured on January 1 while they were in operation 150 kilometers from Gao, an area where armed groups are increasingly active and dangerous. They were traveling in a vehicle (a Dingo II) with six other colleagues when it struck an explosive device.
“The Dingo II is a vehicle that is used to transport personnel. The one hit was the first in a column of 8 vehicles, it rolled on an improvised explosive device that works with a pressure plate. wheel touches the vehicle, it activates and in this case, it is the first vehicle to roll on it, the front of the vehicle has been completely torn off, some parts of the engine have been found 50 meters from the vehicle. It shows the power of the impact but also that the vehicle has well protected the personnel inside “, explains Commander Jean-François, who returned from Mali in February 2019.
General Johan Peeters, who was precisely in Mali at the time of the incident, has the same analysis: “It is clear that their vehicle played an important role because the explosive charge was 30 kilos, so it is not negligible. It could have been really dramatic.“
The two injured soldiers, part of a bilingual unit, remained in Mali, where they are continuing their mission. They were not seriously injured but suffer from muscle damage. They were obviously also shocked by what they experienced.
“The details of the injuries are medical confidential, but they remain there. I saw them last week and they are fine “, adds General Peeters. “I was there to take the temperature in the detachment and I was very reassured by what I saw. I was able to give permission to resume operations as planned “.
According to the captain, the procedure to be followed during this type of incident had been repeated in training and it was perfectly applied. “This type of situation had been the subject of exercises: communication, medical procedure, how to take cover, all this served in this case“.
The federal prosecution has opened an investigation for terrorism, said captain Carl Gillis, head of the Defense Operations division. “We have provided all the information to the federal prosecutor’s office which will send a letter rogatory on the spot“Several terrorist groups are potentially behind this attack.
Both Defense and investigators now hope to recover the wreckage of the Dingo II so that it can be analyzed. More than 180 such incidents were reported in Mali in 2019 alone.