File photo of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: Reuters)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mourned the death of five American soldiers from the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Egypt who died on Thursday in a helicopter crash, read a statement by the US Department of State’s Office of the Spokesperson on Friday.
“We mourn the terrible loss of five American soldiers who died yesterday in service of our country as a part of the MFO in Egypt,” Pompeo said in the statement.
"Our great men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day for our nation and for the sake of securing peace throughout the world," added Pompeo.
“Alongside our servicemen, we also are saddened to learn of the deaths of one French and one Czech soldier,” Pompeo said, adding that “We pray for all of their families and for the quick recovery of the one injured American soldier who survived. May God bless our nation and these patriots.”
On Thursday, the MFO reported on its website that seven MFO peacekeepers died -- five US nationals, a French and a Czech -- and one was injured in a helicopter crash during a routine mission.
Later on Thursday, an informed source told Ahram Online the crash took place near Tiran Island in the Red Sea, denying reports the accident occurred in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
The MFO said it will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the accident. “At this point, there is no information to indicate the crash was anything except an accident."
The MFO was installed to monitor the demilitarisation of Sinai under the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace accord.
According to its website, the MFO has 1,154 military personnel from the United States and 12 other countries covering an area of more than 10,000 square kilometres (3,860 square miles) in Sinai. Some 452 of the personnel are American.
In an official statement released late Thursday, the Egyptian foreign ministry expressed its condolences over the “tragic accident,” which the statement also said occurred due to a technical failure when flying over the island.