Up to 200 troops with a Swedish reconnaissance force could be heading to Mali. File Photo: Alexander Karlsson/TT.

Swedish troops could be heading to Mali

"Sweden is a good choice for the UN mission in Mali"
1:58 min

Sweden will likely dispatch a military reconnaissance force to Mali to assist with an United Nations peacekeeping mission in the troubled African nation, Swedish Radio News reports.

Although the timeline of the operation and size of the force are unknown, up to 200 Swedish soldiers could be heading to the war-torn country that saw radical jihadists seize power in the north in January 2012 only to be ousted by a French counter-terrorism offensive.

Speaking with news agency TT, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the UN asked Sweden if it could supply troops dealing with intelligence and information gathering. "We want to answer it in a positive way," Bildt said.

The government has asked the Swedish Armed Forces to prepare a force focused on intelligence operations. Most likely soldiers from the intelligence battalion at K3 in Karlsborg will take part in any operations.

Bildt told TT that he has informed Parliament's advisory council on foreign affairs about the plans. Send a force to Mali would requires a decision by parliament and the government is working on a bill to be presented in the spring.

Bildt added that it may be necessary to send "a few hundred" non-combat troops, who may require a protection force while in Mali.

"We need to have some better data before we can put forth a bill," said Bildt.

According to Swedish Radio News, the troops could be stationed in the northern town of Timbuktu.

There are also reportedly discussions about sending some 50 special forces troops in about four months to the Central African Republic, which has seen sectarian violence and unrest kill thousands. The Swedish troops could possibly work alongside servicemen from the Baltic countries and Finland, Swedish Radio News reported.

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