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The French President François Hollande says French troops in Mali are helping the government fight an armed rebellion, which is sweeping the country.

Hollande said: “I, on behalf of France, responded to the request for assistance from the President of Mali, supported by the West African countries.”

“Consequently, the French armed forces have given, this afternoon, support to Malian units to fight against the terrorists,” the French President added.

Following the rebels’ consolidation of power in the north, they have now taken the city of Konna, opening the road to the south and the capital, Bangui.

President Hollande’s pledge of military aid comes as the Malian government has announced it is counter-attacking to retake Konna.

Hollande had previously ruled out the use of French troops, saying the United Nations was best placed to negotiate a peaceful solution.

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