The Hague (AFP) - The Netherlands on Friday announced it was extending its contribution to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali for another year, but will pull out its helicopters and crews.
"We have decided to continue the Mali mission, but with a reduced capacity," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters at his weekly press conference, adding the "Dutch helicopters will be withdrawn."
The Netherlands has been contributing to the UN stabilisation mission in the west African nation since April 2014, and has reportedly deployed up to 400 troops, as well as four Apache helicopters and three Chinooks.
Earlier this year two Dutch UN peacekeepers were accidentally killed and one wounded in an explosion during a training exercise at their camp in northwest Mali.
A total of 290 Dutch troops will be left behind in Mali once the helicopters are withdrawn in early 2017, Rutte and officials said.
The Dutch mission remains "important to contribute to peace, was well as for stability in the Sahel region and thus the security of Europe," Rutte added.
The Dutch troops have already been transferring some tasks in and those remaining will focus on collecting and analysing information, as well as long range reconnaissance, the defence ministry said in a statement.
The UN mission MINUSMA was deployed in Mali in July 2013 as part of an international effort against jihadist groups which overran the country's northern territory. More than 11,000 UN police and military are currently serving there, attempting to guarantee security in lawless swathes of the vast Sahel nation.
Although they were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013, extremist groups still pose a threat.
And the north continues to be beset by violence having fallen under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.
Although peace has been restored in parts of Mali "it remains fragile and the work is not yet done," the ministry said.
Mali also faces threats from "terrorism and transnational crime" while the exodus of migrants is a source of "instability on Europe's southern flank," it added.