Frances vows help after Mali Islamists take town

Associated Press
FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2012 file photo, fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. The Mali army attacked Islamist rebels with heavy weapons in the center of the country which divides the insurgent-held north and the government-controlled south, government officials said Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. (AP Photo/File)
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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — France's president is vowing to help stop the advance of radical Islamists a day after they seized a key town.

The United Nations Security Council also has condemned the capture of Konna, and called on U.N. member states to provide assistance to Mali.

A regional military intervention to take back northern Mali from the Islamists is not likely before September, say diplomats, though the recent advance by the Islamists raises the specter of earlier military action.

France did not specify what assistance it was prepared to offer, though French President Francois Hollande said the former colonial power is ready to help to the stop the Islamist extremists.

The fighting over the town of Konna was the first direct clash between Malian government forces and the Islamists in nearly a year.

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