Nine soldiers killed in shooting accident

Nine South African soldiers were killed on Friday in a shooting accident involving an anti-aircraft gun during a training exercise at a base in the central Bloemfontein region, the army said.

“I can confirm that nine of our people have died and another 15 were injured and taken to various hospitals around Bloemfontein,” South African National Defence Force spokesperson Brigadier General Kwena Mangope said.

“We are still waiting for details but we do know it was an exercise, a yearly exercise that 27 soldiers participated in.

“We use a variety of weapons [in the training exercise]. This particular one is a 35mm MK5 anti-aircraft gun,” he added.

An investigation has already been launched into the incident that happened at about 9am.

The area where the accident took place has been sealed off and officers from the military police and civilian police service are at the scene.

Welfare officers from the army’s health service have already been dispatched to the base to offer counselling.

Both Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and Chief of Staff General Godfrey Ngwenya had “extended their sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families of the deceased”, a Defence Ministry statement said. — AFP

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