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Ghanaian troops ready for battle in Mali
From: Ghana | Daily Graphic          Published On: January 18, 2013, 05:37 GMT
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Ghanaian troops ready for battle in Mali
The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) is waiting for the green light from ECOWAS to send 120 soldiers to the besieged nation of Mali.

Mainly construction engineers, the Ghanaian soldiers will provide support in the form of the provision of electricity, the construction of camps and fences for security buildings, and other services.

Currently, the Chiefs of the Defense Staff of various ECOWAS countries are attending their monthly review meeting in Mali and are expected to advise ECOWAS on when the Ghanaian troops will arrive in Mali.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Director of Public Affairs of the GAF, Col. Mbawine Atintande, said already the troops had been trained and provided with adequate resources.

Most parts of Mali have been captured by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The threat posed by the Islamic fundamentalists has been amplified by weapons that poured in from Libya following the fall of Col. Gaddafi.

The United Nations (UN), at an emergency Security Council meeting, called for the rapid deployment of an Africa-led international force to Mali, a move in line with sentiments expressed by ECOWAS officials.

In response to the directive and a plea from Malian authorities, French troops as well as soldiers from Nigeria and Senegal landed in Mali last week.

Already, French forces have bombed rebel bases in Mali, where Islamist rebels have threatened to advance on the capital Bamako from their stronghold in the north.

According to Col. Atintande, the period of stay for the Ghanaian troops would be determined by the situation in Mali and ECOWAS, but added that as usual they would be in the country on a six-month rotation.

France said it had decided to act to stop the offensive, which could create "a terrorist state at the doorstep of France and Europe."

However, speaking at a press conference, the army official who made this statement refused to give details of France's activities.

Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaeda have taken control of the ancient town in northern Mali, Timbuktu, and other major towns in the country, forcing a large number of people to seek refuge in the capital, Bamako.

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