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Originally published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM

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W. Africans to join fight against Mali Islamists

An official with the West African regional bloc says troops from Nigeria are expected in Mali nearly a week after French forces began a military operation to oust radical Islamists from power.

The Associated Press

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BAMAKO, Mali —

An official with the West African regional bloc says troops from Nigeria are expected in Mali nearly a week after French forces began a military operation to oust radical Islamists from power.

Aboudou Toure Cheaka, special representative for the president of the ECOWAS commission, says troops from Niger also will be deployed Thursday along the border between Mali and Niger.

Forces from Burkina Faso and Togo are expected to be in place this weekend or early next week.

France has upwards of 800 troops in Mali, and expects to ramp up to a total of 2,500 that will include French Foreign Legionnaires.

It has committed helicopter gunships, fighter jets, surveillance planes and refueling tankers in the fight against the Islamists who seized control of northern Mali last year.

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