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West African bloc authorizes troops for Mali

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 12, 2013 at 10:10 a.m.

— The West African regional bloc ECOWAS has authorized the immediate deployment of troops to Mali a day after French forces began a military operation there.

In a statement released Saturday, ECOWAS commission president Kadre Desire Ouedraogo says it made the decision "in light of the urgency of the situation."

ECOWAS did not say how many troops would be sent to Mali or when they would arrive. It also did not specify which countries from the 15-nation bloc would be providing the forces.

ECOWAS has been talking for months about a military operation to oust the Islamists from northern Mali. While the U.N. approved a plan it had not been expected until September.

The French operation, which started Friday, came after an appeal for help from Mali's president.

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