Oct 21, 2013

The Netherlands mull commandoes, AH-64 attack helicopters for Mali

The Netherlands is considering sending some 400 soldiers including elite commandos, as well as Apache attack helicopters to war-torn Mali following an appeal for more UN peacekeepers.
The plan follows an urgent request by the UN's special representative in the west African country for more blue helmets as its peacekeeping force faced a new surge of Islamist attacks.
It also pondered sending 70 intelligence officers, a small force of training staff and soldiers to protect the task force.
The Dutch cabinet is said to make a decision on the issue within the next two weeks.
The UN special representative to Mali, former Dutch politician Bert Koenders, told the Security Council on Wednesday that Mali's international force needed helicopters and troops as it built up to replace a French force that intervened this year to halt an Islamist takeover.
French troops entered Mali in January to halt an advance on the capital Bamako by Al-Qaeda linked Islamist troops and alleged Tuareg rebels.
A presidential election was held in July but militant attacks have resumed in northern Mali where extremist groups are based.
France still has 3,200 troops in Mali but wants to reduce the figure to 1,000 by the end of this year.
The Netherlands twice attempted to join a European Union-flagged military training mission to Mali, but both times the plans were dropped due to infighting within the ruling coalition.

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