France sends extra troops to Mali
France is sending an extra 100 troops to Mali after an outbreak of violence this week in the north of the country between government forces and Tuareg separatists, an army spokesman said.
Machine gun and heavy weapons fire broke out today in the northern Mali town of Kidal, a rebel stronghold where the army has been reinforcing its positions ahead of an expected drive to retake it, an army officer and the United Nations said.
During the weekend, clashes killed at least eight Malian soldiers and eight civilians including six government officials.
"The decision has been taken to bring forces from Abidjan to Gao given the current period of tension," spokesman Gilles Jaron told reporters.
He said about 100 soldiers were being sent which would take French troop numbers to 1,700 in its former colony.
Paris delayed plans to redeploy 3,000 soldiers to fight militants across Africa's Sahel region, saying it first needed to help deal with the violence in northern Mali.
The clashes, which come a year after a French-led intervention drove out Islamist fighters, threaten to sink efforts to find a peaceful solution to the long cycle of Tuareg rebellions in the West African nation's desert north.