20 Jan 2013

France urges African leaders to send troops to Mali

11:36 am on 20 January 2013

West African leaders are discussing the crisis in Mali at a summit in Ivory Coast.

France has sent troops to Mali to fight an Islamist takeover of several towns.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the meeting France had been obliged to send in troops rapidly, but the deployment of African soldiers is now a priority.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara also called for more support for Mali.

Islamist fighters on Friday withdrew from two towns in central Mali following French air strikes, the BBC reports.

Officials say the Islamists have now left the southern town of Diabaly, which they took on Monday, while Mali's army has also recaptured Konna, which was seized by rebels triggering the French intervention.