French, Nigerian soldiers arrive in Mali to reinforce anti-rebel fight
Xinhua | 2013-1-13 19:05:51
By Agencies
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As part of support to the Malian army against rebel forces, groups of French and Nigerian soldiers landed Bamako on Saturday afternoon, Malian military sources said.

Military sources said the French soldiers came from Chad and Cote d'Ivoire, where they were based. They came with their materials and food.

Shortly after their arrival, a Nigerian military aircraft also landed in Bamako, sending Nigerian troops to join regional forces to flush out rebels in northern Mali.

The sources did not give figures of the troops arrived in Mali Saturday. However, a mobilization of international forces have already started.

Earlier, France have dispatched 200 troops from Chad to back the Malian government forces to block the rebel fighters from further south-ward movement.

It was reported that with the support of French air raid, the Mali army has successfully pushed back the rebels in the last few days from Konna, a military base of the army invaded by the rebels on Thursday.

The Nigerian troops were part of the regional forces as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has authorized member states to send troops to support Malian defense forces to fight against the rebels who occupied the northern part of the country since March 2012 following a military coup.

Cote d'Ivoir President Alassane Ouattara, chairman of ECOWAS, on Friday declared the start of a U.N.-mandated operation to deploy some 3,000 African soldiers to Mali.

The troops will be deployed or arrived in Mali by Monday at the latest, said Ali Coulibaly, Cote d'Ivoir's African Integration Minister.

The multinational force is expected to be led by Nigerian Major- General Shehu Abdulkadir.



On Saturday evening, Senegalese Minister of Foreign Affairs Mankeur Ndiaye announced that his country was to send 500 troops to Mali to assist the Malian army to regain the occupied land.

Burkina Faso and Niger have earlier announced each of them would send 500 soldiers to Mali.

The United Nations recently asked the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS to produce a detailed plan for a possible military intervention in northern Mali.


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