French troops take on Mali rebels

France's President Francois Hollande delivers a speech on the situation in Mali at the Elysee Palace in Paris earlier today.Picture: AP

French troops have started conducting military operations against Islamist extremists in Mali, alongside troops from the West African country.

President Francois Hollande said today that Mali is facing a “terrorist aggression.”

He said that in response to a request by Mali’s president for help, “French army forces supported Malian units this afternoon to fight against terrorist elements.”

He said the French operation would last “as long as necessary” and said it was aimed notably at protecting the 6,000 French citizens in Mali, a former French colony.

France has led a diplomatic push for international action in Mali against Islamist extremists.

Extremists who have controlled the north for months captured the city of Konna yesterday and are threatening the city of Mopti – with 100,000 inhabitants. The capture of Mopti would leave the capital Bamako more vulnerable.

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