Dutch UN Peacekeepers killed in Mali explosion

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A flag lowered to half-staff (photo: Ministry of Defense)A flag lowered to half-staff (photo: Ministry of Defense)

An accidental mortar shell explosion killed two Dutch soldiers operating on behalf of the United Nations mission to Mali on Wednesday, the Dutch cabinet confirmed in a statement. Sergeant 1st Class Henry Hoving, 29, and 24-year-old Corporal Kevin Roggeveld died during target practice.

A 23-year-old Soldier 1st Class was also seriously hurt in the blast, according to Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. He was operated on at a military hospital in the northeastern town of Kidal, but his condition was not revealed.

All three victims are part of Infantry Battalion 13, from Air-mobile Brigade 11 based in Assen, Drenthe. “My sympathy goes out to the relatives and colleagues of these two brave soldiers,” the defense minister said in a statement. “They fought for a better and safer world, and paid the highest possible price,” she said, adding well-wishes for the injured soldier.

The explosion also took place in Kidal. An investigation into the incident is planned.

The Netherlands has deployed 400 troops to the African nation as part of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Minusma).