French fighter jets have bombed Islamist rebels in central Mali for a third day on Sunday after claims the insurgents were just days away from seizing the capital Bamako.
The continuous air-strikes were being carried out around three towns. Forces also recaptured Konna, a strategically located central town, a day after it was seized by Islamist rebels.
Interior Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French radio: “There are raids happening at the moment, there will be more this afternoon and tomorrow. The determination of the French President is absolute: we must eradicate this terrorism that could threaten the security of Mali, the security of our country (France) and of Europe.”
Last April, al Qaeda-linked militants snatched control of the north of the country and have recently pushed south.
Paris deployed more than 500 troops to help prevent rebels advancing further.
Meanwhile hundreds of people have come forward to give blood to help injured Malian solders, after a request from the president.
At one centre in Bamako alone, medical staff collected more than 1,000 pouches in one day.
Mali’s West African neighbours are expected to deploy troops to support government and French forces over the next few days.