Defence minister's remark sparks attack fears

20th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Defence minister Henk Kamp has been accused of increasing the likelihood of deadly attacks on Dutch troops stationed in southern Iraq by supposedly threatening to pull the troops out if another soldier is killed.

20 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — Defence minister Henk Kamp has been accused of increasing the likelihood of deadly attacks on Dutch troops stationed in southern Iraq by supposedly threatening to pull the troops out if another soldier is killed.

Kamp who is visiting Iraq later insisted the Dutch force will remain until after the planned election in Iraq in January 2005. Kamp confirmed the troops will come home around 15 March next year when the mission officially ends.

The minister is returning to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Earlier speaking to Mohammed Abbas al-Hassani of al-Muthanna province in the south of the country, Kamp reminded him of the death of a Dutch military policeman Jeroen Severs during a well-planned ambush on 14 August, Radio Netherlands reported.

Neither the police nor residents had given any warning of the attack in which five other Dutch soldiers were seriously wounded.

The Dutch minister — who also visited Dutch troops after arriving in Iraq on Monday — said a similar attack would severely damage relations between the Netherlands and Iraq.

But the governor instead interpreted his comments as a threat that the Netherlands would then leave and said on local television that the statement was more likely to encourage a terrorist attack on Dutch forces.

Meanwhile, Kamp visited Baghdad on Wednesday and told interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi that Dutch troops would continue to do their best in maintaining and strengthening security in its patrol region until the end of the mission.

But Kamp also said the planned departure of Dutch troops at the end of the mission in March 2005 will proceed, news agency ANP reported.

The Netherlands currently has about 1,360 troops serving on peacekeeping duties in the south of Iraq. Two soldiers have been killed in violence since the mission started in the summer of 2003.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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