'Nigeria yet to deploy troops to Mali'

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Nigeria has denied reports that it has already deployed troops to Mali under the auspices of the African-led International Support Mission for Mali (AFISMA).

The country however said a reconnaissance team has been sent to Mali ahead of troops deployment in the days ahead.

''There is no Nigerian military deployment in Mali, but a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) reconnaissance team was briefly in Mali to see the facilities on ground before normal deployment,'' military sources told PANA here Saturday.

The sources said the team also visited Niger, where it will operate from.

ECOWAS Chairman and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has ordered the immediate deployment of the 3,500-strong ECOWAS component of AFISMA to Mali, following the resurgence of fighting between rebel Islamist groups and the Malian military.

However, ECOWAS sources said only four member states are ready to deploy immediately - Nigeria, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Details of the number of troops to be deployed and when they will be sent to Mali are still unavailable.

Leaders of the 15-member regional bloc ECOWAS are due to meet at an extra-ordinary summit in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, on Wednesday apparently as part of measures to expedite the deployment of the West African troops.

On Friday, French President Francois Hollande announced that French troops are already on ground in Mali to support the Malian troops who are battling the rebels.
-0- PANA SEG 13Jan2013

13 january 2013 08:21:28

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