Junior justice minister to replace Dutch defense minister

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Netherlands' junior justice minister is to become the country's new defense minister after the resignation of Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who quit following a highly critical report into the deaths of two Dutch peacekeepers during a training exercise in 2016.

The government announced Wednesday that Klaas Dijkhoff will lead the defense ministry. The appointment comes as talks to form a new four-party ruling coalition continue following elections in March.

Hennis-Plasschaert and the country's military commander, Gen. Tom Middendorp, resigned late Tuesday after an independent report criticized the defense ministry for "serious shortcomings" in its care for troops sent on a peacekeeping mission to Mali.

The report said that the two soldiers were killed instantly when a mortar shell exploded prematurely during a training exercise in Mali.

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