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Chad army enters Mali town

worldchadMALI – Some 1,800 soldiers from Chad have entered Kidal, the last major town in northern Mali under rebel control, the French military says.

French-led forces captured Kidal’s airport last week but have not yet secured the town itself.

After Islamist fighters fled, separatist Tuareg fighters took control of the town.

UN, European and African officials are meeting in Brussels to discuss how to finance and organise rebuilding Mali.

One question is how to hold elections, which have been set for 31 July.

French special forces have had control of Kidal airport for several days.

But the Tuareg rebels did not want Mali’s army, which has been fighting alongside the French forces, to enter Kidal – accusing its soldiers of killing Tuareg civilians in other towns they have recaptured with France’s help.

The French intervened in January, fearing that al-Qaeda-linked militants who had controlled Mali’s vast north since April 2012 were about to advance on the capital, Bamako.

The French-led forces recaptured the other main town in northern Mali, Timbuktu and Gao, without a fight.

Islamist fighters are believed to have fled into the mountains around Kidal, near the Algerian border, where French forces have been carrying out air strikes against them.

Correspondents say the rapid progress of the French-led force has put the diplomatic focus on how to ensure lasting security in Mali.

“The threat concerns all civilised countries,” AFP news agency quotes Mali’s Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly as saying as he arrived for the international support group for Mali in Brussels today. (BBC)

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