Jan. 11 - French President Francois Hollande announced that he has sent forces to Mali to help the government fight Islamist insurgents. Deborah Gembara reports.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE** France has deployed troops to Mali. The forces will assist the Malian government in their fight against Islamist insurgents. French President Francis Hollande. (SOUNDBITE) (French) French President Francois Hollande Saying (French): "The French armed forces brought their support this afternoon to Malian army units to fight against these terrorist elements. This operation will last as long as necessary. I will keep the French regularly informed about its proceedings. The terrorists must know that France will always be here, when it comes to not only its fundamental interests but also the rights of a population, that of Mali, which wants to live freely and in a democracy. Thank you." France's decision to send forces came after residents of the northern town of Konna reported rebels drove out the military on Thursday. Nigeria and Senegal are also assisting in the effort. For Malians living in France, the president's announcement is welcome news. SOUNDBITE: MALIAN LIVING IN FRANCE MR DABO SAYING: "We want France to help us. Because France were the colonizers, they colonized Mali. We want the liberation of our territory." SOUNDBITE: MALIAN LIVING IN FRANCE MR SIDIBE SAYING: "Everyone is suffering. It's not nice for any Malian to see his country suffer in such a way." Hollande is expected to meet with his Malian counterpart Dioncounda Traore next week.