U.N. says Benin will terminate contribution to peacekeeping mission in Mali

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Heads of State address the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Benin has decided to terminate its military and police unit contributions to a United Nations peacekeeping mission in regional neighbour Mali, the U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said on Thursday.

"The units are planned to be repatriated at the end of their respective tours in November 2022 and November 2023, as requested," Haq said.

Earlier, Benin's government spokesman told Reuters he had not been informed of the decision.

The West African country faces a growing spillover of militant activity from the Sahel region, where Islamist insurgents have escalated attacks and seized territory over the past decade.

Benin has contributed 250 troops, 136 police units and other personnel to the U.N.'s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Mali, where the Sahel insurgency took root after at 2012 coup.

Groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have moved beyond the tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger where their activity was concentrated over the past decade, staging a string of attacks in Benin and neighbouring Togo in recent months.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; additional reporting by David Lewis and Pulcherie Adjoha; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio)