First Dutch soldiers leave for Mali

An advance group of 14 Dutch soldiers will leave for the African country of Mali on Monday to prepare the way for the arrival of 350 soldiers joining a UN peace mission.

Nos television said on Friday the group will oversee the establishment of a camp and make sure the infrastructure is working properly. The rest of the group will leave in March and should be operational by April.

The Dutch soldiers will be stationed in the desert near Gao and in the capital Bamako. They will focus on gathering information and training local forces, the defence ministry said in November.