Bamako, January 17, 2013 – At least 2 000 West African troops forming part of a regional intervention in Mali’s French-backed war against Islamic extremists will arrive in Bamako within the next 10 days, official sources said on Wednesday.
West African army chiefs met in Bamako on Wednesday to plot the deployment of at least 3 300 troops to shore up a French offensive against the Islamists who have occupied northern Mali since April 2012.
“Urgency necessitates that everything is speeded up so that 2 000 men from AFISMA (African-led International Support Mission for Mali) arrive in Bamako before January 26,” read an internal document from the meeting seen by AFP.
The number was confirmed by Commander Abdoulaye Diakite from the Malian army.
“We have agreed to start by mobilising 2 000 men. Things will move fast because from tomorrow, the Nigerian army will send its first contingent,” he said.
“Troops from other countries will quickly follow.”
The document circulated during the meeting said: “For the success of the mission it is necessary to coordinate all actions with the French forces.”
AFISMA will be led by Nigerian General Shehu Abdulkadir, and the country will also send 900 men, a first contingent of which was meant to arrive on Wednesday, but had not yet landed by the middle of the evening.
The UN-backed intervention force will also include men from Niger, Burkina Faso, Togo, Senegal, Guinea and Ghana. Chad, which is not a member of Ecowas, has also promised to send troops. – AFP