A Dutch UN helicopter has crashed near Gao in northern Mali, killing its two crew members, the Dutch defence ministry has said.

The Apache helicopter made a forced landing during a military exercise, the UN force in Mali said in a statement.

The Dutch armed forces chief, Gen Tom Middendorp, said: “Everything points to this being an accident.”

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The aircraft was from the Minusma mission charged with peacekeeping since Islamist fighters were forced out.

One crew member survived the crash but died later of his injuries at a French field hospital, Gen Middendorp told a news conference in The Hague.

Gen Middendorp said an investigation into the cause of the crash was under way.

www.bbc.com