BAMAKO A contingent of Togolese troops arrived in Mali on Thursday, marking the start of a deployment of thousands of West African soldiers due to fight alongside the Malian and French army against al Qaeda-linked rebels in the north.
A Reuters television reporter at Bamako airport said a jet carrying about 100 Togolese troops landed at around 1700 GMT.
"Life is difficult for the people of northern Mali and the international community has the duty to help these people," said Lieutenant Colonel Mawoute Bayassim Gnamkoulamba, a member of the Togolese contingent. "That is why we think that it is necessary for us to protect Mali and we are proud today to fulfill that mission." (Reporting by Marco Trujillo; Writing by David Lewis; editing by Daniel Flynn)