France vows to help Mali after Islamist extremists take key town, push toward centre of nation

Associated Press, The Associated Press
Associated Press

BAMAKO, Mali - France's president is vowing to help stop the advance of radical Islamists a day after they seized a key town.

The United Nations Security Council also has condemned the capture of Konna, and called on U.N. member states to provide assistance to Mali.

A regional military intervention to take back northern Mali from the Islamists is not likely before September, say diplomats, though the recent advance by the Islamists raises the spectre of earlier military action.

France did not specify what assistance it was prepared to offer, though French President Francois Hollande said the former colonial power is ready to help to the stop the Islamist extremists.

The fighting over the town of Konna was the first direct clash between Malian government forces and the Islamists in nearly a year.