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African forces move towards central Mali to boost offensive

Published on Jan 24, 2013 5:54 AM

BAMAKO (AFP) - African forces on Wednesday began moving towards Mali's centre, the French foreign minister said, as pressure grew on Malian troops over summary killings and rights abuses in a French-led assault on Al-Qaeda-linked groups.

The first troops from a United Nations-mandated African force aimed at replacing the French mission had "already started to move towards central towns," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Paris, adding that the force had deployed "far quicker than envisaged." He said 1,000 troops from West African countries and Chad had already arrived in Mali, which has been split in two since April.

"The African force is deploying much faster than expected," Mr Fabius said.

"Obviously that poses a number of logistical difficulties but I have to say that I have seen a very big effort by our African friends."

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