Last Friday (April 20th), driving through the streets of Bamako, the capital of Mali, a vehicle with six people was involved in an accident. All six in the vehicle were killed in what is reported to be a “single-car accident”. Officials in Washington have released information that three of the individuals were U.S. soldiers; two assigned to SOCOM and the third assigned to INSCOM (U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command). What stands out about this report to me specifically is the fact that INSCOM (located Fort Belvoir, MD) is also used as the cover organization for personnel assigned to the Intelligence Support Activity. SGM Robert O’Dell of “The Activity” was killed in Mosul, Iraq in 2004; the Army officially listed him as a soldier under INSCOM.
There is little info on the other three killed in the car and the first press release listed them as civilians. I came across a separate article (http://english.cri.cn/6966/2012/04/21/2561s694669.htm) from a local news source that says the vehicle plunged off Martyrs Bridge just South of downtown Bamako and the three other occupants were Moroccans. Still waiting to verify this, it could take a while considering the nature of the business.
You can find the original story here: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/20/3-us-military-personnel-killed-in-mali-crash/
U.S. personnel have been operating in full force in Northern Africa in what is officially dubbed as Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara since 2007. Currently, we have over 1,300 U.S. personnel operating throughout ten African nations, with a heavy emphasis on Mali, Chad, Algeria, and Mauritania. The purpose of our mission there is to cooperate with the local governments in combating Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (off-shoot of AQ) through training, advising, and intelligence sharing.
Another interesting fact is that U.S. operations in Mali have been suspended since March 21st, 2012 when Mali troops overthrew the Malian president in a violent coup. The soldiers were displeased on how the administration was handling the Tuareg rebellion which started in January of 2012. An insurgency which can possibly bring down the entire Malian government.
I reached out to the original author, Robert Burns of the Associate Press, to gather more intel on what happened and will update this article accordingly once I hear from him. At this time, I have yet to find information on the names of the deceased individuals but may these warriors rest in peace.