Belgium to send extra troops to Mali

Belgium is to send extra troops to Mali. The Belgian soldiers will be deployed to protect a French military base there. The EU had asked Belgium for 160 soldiers. However, the Federal Government has only agreed in principle to send half that number. An official announcement on Belgium’s contribution to the Mali mission will be made later.

Two platoons made up of a maximum of 80 infantry soldiers will be sent to Mali from the Leopoldsburg base in Limburg Province. They will be deployed protecting a base around 200km from the Malian capital Bamako.

The French army has been assisting the Malians to drive back Islamist rebels that had been advancing south from the north of the country.

Previously, Belgium made two C-130 Hercules aircraft available to Operation Serval and two Belgian Agusta helicopters have also been deployed.

They are used in the transportation of injured soldiers from the front and are based at Segou, 235km northeast of Bamako. A total of 183 Belgian soldiers are currently in Mali. They will soon be joined by a maximum of 80 additional Belgian troops.