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Dutch Defense Minister, Army Chief Step Down

Hague (October 4, 2017): The Netherlands’ defense minister and Army chief have resigned following a critical report into a 2016 artillery training accident that killed 2 peacekeeping troops and wounded a third.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who has been a caretaker minister since national elections in March, has been under pressure since the publication last week of the independent Dutch Safety Board report into the accident in Mali.

She announced her resignation on Tuesday night in the parliament following a long debate into the report, which criticized the defense ministry for “serious shortcomings” in its care for troops sent on a peacekeeping mission in the African nation.

I have put my heart and soul into serving in the defence ministry,” she told lawmakers. “But it stops here, today”

Hennis-Plasschaert told lawmakers that Defense Chief Gen. Tom Middendorp also was resigning, shortly before he was due to retire.

The report said that the two soldiers were killed instantly when a mortar shell exploded prematurely during a training exercise near a Dutch military base in Kidal, Mali. The other man was injured by shrapnel.

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