- The US military has handed over millions worth of military equipment to the Malian government to help them fight al-Qaeda's North African branch. Mali has already received a back-up from Algeria and Libya to fight the Islamists.
Local reports said trucks, powerful communication devices and clothing are among $5m worth of equipment being handed over to the Malian government.
Analysts said the gift from the US government and talk of co-operation with other countries in the region may mean the battle is about to begin in Mali, where rebellion has been on the rise in recent months.
Reports further said the cooperation comes following a number of people that were killed during 2007 and 2008 in suicide attacks and car bombings, mainly along Algeria's Mediterranean coast, including a series of tourist kidnappings.
Algeria has seen fewer attacks in 2009 but the group appears intent on moving southwards. They have claimed responsibility for killing a US citizen in Mauritania and a British hostage in Mali.
Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure promised a total war against the Islamists and has claimed several successes, while on the other side, the government recruited members of the nomadic Tuareg people to battle the Islamists.
Mali, the landlocked West African country, is one of the world's poorest nations. Since independence from France in 1960 it has suffered droughts, rebellions, a coup and 23 years of military dictatorship.
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