Five Estonian soldiers were hurt after suicide terrorists attacked a military base in Gao, Mali, where the Estonians serve together with the French and Mali servicemen.
Suicide terrorists attacked the military base in Gao on 22 July with an improvised explosive device placed in a car, the Estonian military said in a statement.
In addition to the French and Mali GIs who were hurt in the attack, five Estonian servicemen sustained injuries, but according to the Estonian Defence Forces, they were not life threatening.
“There was an attack … at the entrance to the French part of the camp in Gao,” the French military spokesperson, Colonel Frederic Barbry, told Agence France-Presse. “There was no incursion into the base.”
The attack vehicle was painted in UN colours
He added that the soldiers’ injuries were not life-threatening but did not give a breakdown of the casualties.
A source in Gao told Nord Sud Journal that Malian soldiers fired on a vehicle as it tried to force through the checkpoint they were manning outside the base. The occupants of the car returned fire before the vehicle exploded.
The French media reported the bomb vehicle, which was carrying at least three people, was painted in UN colours and struck at 3:45PM local time
The Estonians are serving in the Gao military base in Mali to take part in the French-led anti-terrorist mission, Operation Barkhane. Currently, the Estonian unit, Estpla-28, is participating in the operation.
Supporting the Mali government
The French-led Operation Barkhane is aimed at supporting the Mali government in its fight with Islamic terrorists and to prevent illegal immigration and human trafficking to Europe. It commenced on 1 August 2014 and consists of a 3,000-strong French force, headquartered in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.
The operation has been designed with five countries and former French colonies: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The operation is named after a crescent-shaped dune in the Sahara desert.
The Estonian unit will remain in Gao for a year for three rotations, each rotating out in four months.
Cover: An Estonian soldier in Mali. Images courtesy of the Estonian Defence Forces.