Has anyone been killed during military training?

Many soldiers killed in attack in Mali

At least 19 soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected jihadists in Mali. At least five other soldiers were injured. The attack took place in Sokolo, around 400 kilometers north of the capital Bamako. The Mali government announced that the attackers stole and damaged military equipment. The air force was looking for the unknown perpetrators in the area.

Seven soldiers were killed and several others injured on Wednesday. A position of government troops in the Mopti region near the border with Burkina Faso came under heavy fire from "unidentified" attackers. Local authorities and residents blamed Islamist militias for the attack. The fighting dragged on for several hours, a member of the security forces said.

A French soldier in Mali

In another incident on Thursday, two French soldiers were injured by an explosive device placed on a street. The explosion set fire to the driver's cab of a tanker truck near Timbuktu, the French army said. The fire was quickly extinguished. The soldiers' injuries are not life-threatening.

Criticism of the use

Mali has not been able to calm down for years. Islamist groups took control of the north of the country in 2012. The former colonial power France then intervened militarily in 2013 and pushed the Islamists back. After 13 French soldiers were killed in a helicopter collision in Mali last November, criticism of the mission has increased in France.

Around 4,500 French soldiers and around 13,000 blue helmet soldiers are stationed in Mali. The Bundeswehr is involved in the UN stabilization mission MINUSMA in the Sahel state with around a thousand soldiers.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in the training center of the Malian armed forces

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) asked the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" at the end of December whether the Bundeswehr did not need "a more robust training mandate". Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) criticized the idea. "I am skeptical of an expansion of the Bundeswehr mission," said Müller last week of the "Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung". Radicalization, terror, flight and human smuggling can only be effectively countered if the local people have a perspective on life.

The playground of the terrorist groups

A number of armed groups are active in the states of the Sahel zone - an area that stretches south of the Sahara from the Atlantic to the Red Sea. Some have sworn allegiance to the terrorist groups "Islamic State" or Al-Qaeda. The neighboring states Niger and Burkina Faso, but also Nigeria, have been particularly hard hit by attacks in recent months.

Bundeswehr soldiers in Camp Castor of the MINUSMA stabilization mission

Despite the military presence of several international powers, the situation is steadily worsening: According to the think tank Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the number of attacks by extremists has doubled every year since 2015, and in 2019 it was around 700. The terrorist groups benefit from regional attacks in their now almost daily attacks ethnic tensions that they exploit.

Other factors also play into the hands of the extremists: The Sahel countries are among the poorest in the world, with high population growth and poor access to education and health. Governments often have little control in the desert-like expanses outside the cities; In addition to the jihadists, this is also exploited by criminal networks and people smugglers.

stu / uh (epd, afp, dpa)