The gist On Saturday September 23rd, a serious aircraft accident occurred in Mali, which is the subject of the greatest mystery. It is difficult to quantify the number of victims of this tragedy involving a military aircraft while the first images of the crash are circulating on social networks.
A military aircraft, an Ilyushin Il-76, crashed while landing in Gao, northern Mali, on Saturday, September 23. Photos and a video of this impressive accident, in which we observe a huge explosion, leave no doubt, but four days after the events it is still difficult to quantify the number of victims of this disaster.
“The causes are not yet known,” an airport source told AFP, saying the plane was “overloaded” and used by Malian forces and their allies in the Russian paramilitary group Wagner. “The material and human toll is high,” assured a diplomatic source, still quoted by AFP, who also said that the plane was carrying Malian soldiers and Russian partners as well as military equipment, without releasing an official statement.
“It is out of the question for me to comment on military issues,” a Malian army official replied. “We intervened, but there wasn’t much we could do. It’s really serious. I can’t say anything more,” said a source from the fire department.
A spokesman for the Bundeswehr, which is still present in Gao as part of the UN mission in Mali (Minusma), confirmed the aircraft accident. “According to the information we have (early Saturday afternoon), the aircraft must have overshot the runway,” he said, specifying that it was not a Bundeswehr aircraft. The pictures confirm these facts. “It is a Russian-built IL-76 model aircraft,” he added.
According to several media outlets, which remain cautious about the reliability of their information, the death toll could be high, exceeding 140 deaths.
The Gao military airport is used by both the Malian army and its Russian partners and Minusma. The junta in power in Mali ousted the French anti-jihadist force in 2022 and the UN force in 2023 to turn militarily and politically towards Russia.
This crash occurred amid growing tensions between the various armed actors in the region and the Malian army. Since August, the Timbuktu and Gao regions have been the scene of a series of attacks on army positions and civilians. The army and armed groups are vying for control of the area as Minusma retreats.