The Netherlands’ caretaker Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis has resigned over failures by her ministry that led to the death of two Dutch soldiers in a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in Mali.
Hennis declared her resignation on Tuesday, after the Dutch Safety Board (DBS) released the findings of a probe regarding a deadly incident on June 6, 2016 in which two Dutch soldiers were killed and a third was severely injured by a mortar attack by militants.
According to the DBS report, the Dutch Defense Ministry had allowed the pursuit of strategic goals to take precedence over safety and medical standards.
Hennis’ resignation came only days before the country’s caretaker government is due to be replaced by a new coalition, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Hennis further announced that the chief of the Netherlands’ armed forces, General Tom Middendorp, would also submit his resignation over the DSB findings.
The Dutch military, which initially supplied Apache helicopter squadrons to the Mali peacekeeping mission, is now winding down its contribution to the force, with troop numbers expected to fall to nearly 300 this year.
The Malian army, the UN peacekeepers, and humanitarian groups in the African country are frequently targeted by local militants, who have regrouped since a French-led military operation in 2013 to drive them out of the West African country’s northern towns.
At least 100 peacekeepers have died in recent months, making it the most deadly UN mission to date, while the number of attacks on aid workers and their compounds has climbed this year.
France intervened in the impoverished nation in 2013 to flush out militants and allied Tuareg rebels, who took over the country’s desert north in 2012.
Fighting between rival Tuareg factions has intensified in recent months and threatens to derail a 2015 peace deal meant to end years of conflict and instability in the landlocked country.