The military says a presidential approval has been given for a 900 troops
Nigeria will deploy her first batch of troops to Mali within 24 hours, to lead an ECOWAS mission backed by French air support and drive out Islamists taken over Northern Mali, the military said on Tuesday.
Nigeria will provide 900 troops for the force, 300 more than previously announced, and the first company will be in Mali by Wednesday, the BBC quotes a Nigerian Army official, Mohammed Yerima, as saying.
“The president approved the deployment of a battalion, and in the next 24 hours a company of the battalion will be deployed,” he said.
France began a military operation in Mali on Friday, striking targets in Northern Mali while 600 troops were sent in to protect Bamako, the country’s capital.
By Tuesday afternoon, extra hundreds of French troops arrived in the country raising the tally to more than 800, and French authorities have said the number will be increased in days.
Larger deployments, up to 3300, are expected to come from West African countries with Nigeria leading. The deployments have been slowed by logistics, funding and bureaucracy.
The West African force will arrive Mali within days, military commanders from the ECOWAS nations, meeting Tuesday in Bamako, said.
Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Togo have also pledged troops.
Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo expected to send 500 troops each, and Benin 300.
The CNN quoted Nigerian Army spokesman as saying the number to be immediately deployed is 190 while the remaining 710 will be in Mali within 10 days.
About 60 French armoured vehicles arrived in Bamako on Tuesday, the French military said.
The vehicles carried some 200 troops by road from a French base in Cote d’Ivoire on Monday evening, the military said in a statement.
“There are now nearly 800 French soldiers deployed on the ground in Mali and nearly 1,700 in total taking part in “Operation Serval” in Mali from existing French bases in Africa,’’ the statement said.
French warplanes have carried out a series of air strikes on Islamist positions since the intervention began.
The raids have continued overnight, with President Francois Hollande saying “We are confident about the speed with which we will be able to stop the aggressors, the enemy, these terrorists.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...