Czech Republic sends military contingent to Mali

Warsaw, March 18 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Czech Republic has sent a group of 34 servicemen to Mali to join a military operation against Islamist militants.

Czech news agency CTK said the senate voted to send a contingent of 50 military servicemen to Mali for a term of 15 months. Their mission will officially begin in April.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said his country’s soldiers would be deployed at military bases in Mali, but they would not be directly involved in combat action.

The West African nation of Mali has been in crisis since its president Amadou Toumani Toure was ousted in a coup in March 2012, and a coalition of Islamist groups seized the north of the country.

The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously voted in December to give the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) an initial one-year mandate.

France deployed its own military contingent in January to aid Mali’s government, whose army had been retreating before the attack of armed groups with ties to Al Qaeda.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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