24 Feb 2013

French military operation in Mali in 'final phase'

6:12 pm on 24 February 2013

French president Francois Hollande has said his country's forces are engaged in the "final phase" of the fight against militants in northern Mali.

France has deployed 4000 troops since January to help the Malian government eject the militants who seized control of the north of the country last year.

Mr Hollande said there had been heavy fighting in the Ifoghas mountains, where members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were thought to be hiding.

Mr Hollande also praised Chadian troops for their efforts in the same area.

The BBC reports that 13 Chadian soldiers and some 65 militants were killed in clashes on Friday, according to the Chadian army.

Chad's government has promised to deploy 2000 troops as part of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (Afisma).