France military intervenes in Mali

France’s President Francois Hollande says French troops have started military intervention in Mali to help the Malian government repel the rebels that control the northern part of the West African country.

“I have agreed to Mali’s demand, which means French forces have provided support to Mali this afternoon…. This operation will last as long as is necessary,” Hollande said on Friday.

He added that French forces had arrived in the capital, Bamako, hours earlier.

Malian officials say troops from Nigeria and Senegal have already arrived on the ground to support government forces in their battle against the militants.

“Today, we have partners from Nigeria, Senegal…and more on the ground, to give us some assistance,” Oumar Dao, chief of operations at the Mali Defense Ministry, said earlier in the day.

“Our operational team will define what kind of aid they will provide,” Dao added.

The reports of the deployment of foreign troops in Mali come just a day after militants seized the central town of Konna.

In December 2012, the United Nations Security Council approved the deployment of foreign military forces in Mali to help the African government battle the militants.

The 15-member Security Council authorized an initial one-year deployment of African Union forces in the country. The resolution, drafted by France, also authorized all European Union member states to help rebuild Mali’s security forces.

Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they had mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the two-month Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.

MAM/HMV/SS