Niger says sending 500 soldiers to Mali operation

PARIS Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:41am EST

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PARIS Jan 12 (Reuters) - Niger will send 500 soldiers to join an international military campaign in Mali led by West African regional bloc ECOWAS to quash advances by Islamist rebels, Foreign Minister Mohamed Bazoum told Reuters on Saturday.

"We are sending a battalion of around 500 individuals under the ECOWAS plan," Bazoum told Reuters by telephone, adding that he could not say exactly when the troops would arrive.