Defense recalls more ammunition from Mali mission following fatal mortar grenade incident

The Ministry of Defense is recalling anti-tank ammunition and smoke grenades from the UN mission in Mali. Inspections done following a damaging report by the Dutch Safety Board about an accidental mortar grenade explosion that killed two Dutch soldiers, showed that these two types of ammunition were also stored at too high temperatures and may not be safe. The anti-tank ammunition and smoke grenades will be replaced, and until then they will not be used, Minister Klaas Dijkhoff of Defense and Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Tweede Kamer, NOS reports.

One of the Safety Board's conclusions in the investigation into the fatal mortar grenade accident, was that the grenades were not stored in a cooled container, exposing them to extreme heat and thereby affecting their safety.

Immediately after the Safety Board's report, former Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert announced an 'operational break' to all missions pending inspections. Most missions involving Dutch soldiers have now been resumed. The MINUSMA mission in Mali resumed on Saturday, according to the broadcaster.

Only the activities in and around the remote city of Kidal in Mali are still halted, because Defense is still investigating the availability of evacuation helicopters in an emergency, NOS reports. The initial inspection revealed that the flight time from Gao to Kidal is ten minutes longer than the permitted two hours. Defense is also still looking into the surgical possibilities at a hospital in Kidal, which were also a point of critique in the Safety Board's report on the mortar incident.

Dijkhoff and Koenders also informed the Tweede Kamer that they've banned the use of 81 mm mortars a week and a half ago. These mortars are used in missions in Mali and Lithuania. In a shooting inspection, that was done separate from the inspections following the Safety Board report, it appeared that the mortars' performance differed from the standard. A further inspection is being done on the mortars, and until the results are known, they will not be used.