The Dutch prime minister says two peacekeepers from the Netherlands have been killed in a helicopter crash in Mali.

A commander of the U.N. force in Mali said the crew of the Apache performed a forced landing, but he did not know why, although he said the chopper wasn't attacked. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to the press.

The crash happened near Gao, in the north.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told national broadcaster NOS that it was two Dutch troops who died in the accident.

Mali's northern half came under the control of al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremists following a military coup in 2012. A U.N. force is now trying to stabilize the country.

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Corder reported from The Hague, Netherlands.