French troops expand attack against Mali Islamists

Jan 14, 2013- French troops continue air raids against Islamist militants the West African country of Mali. France is the former colonial ruler of Mali.

The French military plans to expand its attack zones for an early resolution of the crisis. Anti-government Islamists, who control northern areas, are moving further south.

On Friday, France militarily intervened at the request of Mali's government by conducting aerial bombing.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French forces launched air strikes on major cities in the middle of the country on Sunday, following airstrikes on Saturday to prevent an invasion by militants.

The defense minister also said French troops will expand their attack to northern areas of the country to uproot terrorists.

The France-based AFP news agency quotes the public security authority as saying a senior member of the militants was killed in the battle in the country's central region.

French President Francois Hollande said France intervened in Mali to ensure its security. Hollande also said that France's action is supported by the international community and West African nations.

Leaders of those countries are concerned about an expansion of Islamic militant power. They will hold an urgent summit meeting this weekend to discuss deploying troops to Mali.