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Forty Togolese soldiers arrived in Mali on Thursday, the first of those pledged by African nations to back a French-led offensive against Islamist rebels.
The troops were welcomed by French and Malian soldiers at Bamako airport, an AFP photographer said. West African troops have promised more than 3,000 soldiers to back Operation Serval, launched on January 11.
Mali's former colonial ruler France has at this stage a total of 1,400 boots on the ground, according to the defence ministry in Paris. This will progressively be increased to 2,500 troops.
The African MISMA (International Mission for Support to Mali) force is in line with a United Nations resolution and will be headed by Nigerian General Shehu Abdulkadir.
European Union nations gave their support to France for its military campaign in Mali and offers of military aid, possibly including troops, at emergency talks on the crisis in Brussels.
© 2013 AFP
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