Dutch government says it is sending 368 troops to join a UN peacekeeping force in Mali

The Dutch government says it will send 368 troops to join a U.N. peacekeeping force in the conflict-torn West African nation of Mali.

In a letter sent Friday to Parliament, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans says the Dutch contingent will include 220 troops who involved in intelligence gathering and four Apache helicopters.

Mali was plunged into turmoil after a March 2012 coup created a security vacuum that allowed secular Tuareg rebels to take over half of the country's north. Months later, the Tuaregs were kicked out by Islamic jihadists, many linked to al-Qaida. When the Islamists started moving into government-controlled areas in Mali's south, France launched a military offensive on Jan. 11 to oust them. Remnants of the Islamists still remain, however.