BAMAKO, Mali (AP) - Officials say five Malian soldiers including a senior officer are dead after a combat helicopter crash in central Mali.
Lt. Col. Souleymane Maiga says the crash took place Friday morning near the village of Ouro-Modi, about 56 kilometers (35 miles) southeast of Sevare.
All passengers aboard were killed, Maiga said, including an army colonel.
The helicopter had come from Sevare several days earlier for maintenance. Maiga said an investigation would be conducted into the cause of the crash, though an initial assessment blamed mechanical failure.
France launched a military operation in January to oust al-Qaida-linked militants from the desert of northern Mali. The French ultimately want to hand over the mission to the Malian military and an EU training mission is under way to help ready them for the task.