18 Jan 2013

France boosts troop numbers in Mali

8:13 pm on 18 January 2013

France says the number of troops it has sent to Mali is now 1400.

The government has been rapidly increasing the size of the force, since the first soldiers arrived last Friday.

France had some 800 troops on the ground in Mali, before the latest deployment.

It eventually plans to deploy 2500 troops in its former colony, to help the Malian army regain control of the north of the country from insurgents and rebels.

Some 190 troops from Nigeria are also due to arrive in Mali to join the campaign. Nigeria has promised to send a total of 900 troops as well as fighter jets.

Chad has confirmed 2000 soldiers will join the anti-rebel operation in Mali. Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo have also pledged to take part.

In total, 3300 West African troops will be deployed in the conflict under a UN Security Council resolution.

Britain has provided transport planes and Germany sent two transport planes as logistical support on Wednesday.

In Brussels, the EU foreign ministers agreed on Thursday to send a team to train the Malian army. The BBC reports no combat role is envisaged for it.

European governments fear northern Mali is now a haven for a variety of Islamist groups and a base for attacks on Europe.