W African defence chiefs to meet on Mali

2013-01-25 13:58

Lagos - West African defence chiefs will meet in an emergency session in Abidjan on Saturday to discuss military operations in Mali aimed at flushing out Islamists, regional bloc Ecowas said.

The military chiefs "will meet in an emergency session in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire on Saturday ... to appraise the status of the ongoing deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA)," it said in a statement on Friday.

Police chiefs from the 15-nation bloc as well as the commander of the Ecowas-led force, a Nigerian, are also to attend the one-day meeting, it said.

West African nations have set out plans to deploy 3 300 troops to help Mali retake its Islamist-occupied north, but the deployment has been delayed by financing concerns.

An additional 2 000 soldiers from Chad, which is not a member of Ecowas, are also to be deployed.

The French-led offensive against radical Islamists occupying northern Mali entered its third week on Friday amid concerns over a worsening humanitarian situation and rights abuses.