The French airforce has stepped up action against Islamist fighters in Mali, where rebels have occupied the north of the country for the last nine months.
Several hundred French troops have also arrived in the country’s capital city Bamako to help protect it.
Meanwhile West African states including Ivory Coast are preparing to send troops as an international campaign against the Islamists gathers pace.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French Prime Minister, said: “France wants to contribute this way to stop the terrorist menace, which is not only threatenng Mali and Africa, but which is also a threat to France and Europe.”
French President Francois Hollande is due to meet European Commission president Jose Barroso.
Mali requested French invention was triggered when rebel forces moved southwards, capturing the city of Konna and threatening the cities of Mopti and Sevare, which is only 500kms from the capital city Bamoko. Konna has now been recaptured by the government.
A spokesman for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said he considered French actin as “crusader intervention”, and warned that if France continued, it would be “digging the tombs of [its] sons”.