Move to regain northern region of Mali
The interim president of Mali, Dioncounda Traoré, has formally requested that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) send troops to take back northern Mali from Islamic militants.
The interim government had been reluctant to allow foreign troops to enter the country, but the situation has deteriorated and on 1 September the Islamic extremists took Douentza, their farthest position south so far, after they seized it, without bloodshed, from local militia. Sharia law has been imposed in the northern region under the control of Islamic extremists.
ECOWAS is prepared to send a force of around 3,300 troops, but would hope to obtain a UN mandate first.