US military planners focused on Mali intervention

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Associated Press

Posted on December 5, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 5 at 11:35 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A State Department official says the United States has sent military planners to help a group of African nations launch an offensive to take back northern Mali from al-Qaida linked extremists.

Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary for African affairs, insists that any military operation must be African-led. But the Pentagon is working with African countries to address the crisis.

Carson discussed the political, security and humanitarian challenges in Mali at a hearing Wednesday before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb — also known as AQIM — is the best financed al-Qaida affiliate. It controls northern Mali — an area the size of Texas.

The subcommittee chairman, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, said that makes it the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world.

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