Dutch to keep troops in Mali peacekeeping force next year

The Dutch government says it will remain involved in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali next year, keeping some 290 troops in the West African nation.

The Cabinet on Friday approved the extension of the force that is predominantly involved in gathering and analyzing intelligence. Dutch Apache helicopters that have been stationed in Mali will be withdrawn early in 2017.

Islamic extremists took hold of Mali's north after a power vacuum developed following a coup in 2012. A French-led operation ousted the jihadis in 2013, but attacks and unrest continue.

In a statement the government says that progress has been made in Mali since a 2015 peace deal, but the country remains vulnerable to extremism and cross-border crime.