American, French and Czech peacekeepers killed in helicopter crash in Egypt

A helicopter with the US-led Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Egyptian Sinai crashed on Thursday near the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing seven members of the peacekeeper force, Reuters reported. Those killed were five Americans, a French national and a Czech national, all of them military service members, the MFO said in a statement.

It added that one American MFO member survived and was medically evacuated. An official briefed on the incident, who could not be identified by name or nationality, told Reuters it was an accident caused by mechanical failure.

The Czech Defence Ministry released a statement confirming a Czech army member was among those killed in the helicopter crash. The statement said the cause of the crash was a technical fault.

The MFO was installed to monitor the demilitarization of the Sinai under the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace accord. It has decreased in size in recent years as the neighbouring countries tightened security cooperation against Islamist-led Sinai insurgents. According to its website, the MFO draws personnel from 13 countries and covers an area of more than 10,000 square kilometres  in the Sinai.

For Israel, the MFO offers strategic reassurance in a region. The Israeli military said in a statement it had offered to send a rescue team to the scene.

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