Obama sends $10m for French action in Africa

Washington - US President Barack Obama on Monday authorised $10m in military aid for a major French counter-terrorism mission in the Sahel region of West Africa.

"I hereby determine that an unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to France in its efforts to secure Mali, Niger and Chad from terrorists and violent extremists," Obama said.

National Security Council spokesperson Edward Price said: "The funds will go toward "airlift and aerial refuelling services requested by France to support their counter-terrorism operations in those countries."

In January 2013, France launched a large scale operation in Mali aimed at defeating the Islamist extremists who had overrun the north of the former French colony.

This month France reconfigured its force to launch "Operation Barkhane" to combat Islamist violence in a broader swathe of the region touching on five countries along the southern rim of the Sahara.

The operation, to be based in Chad's capital N'Djamena, will involve around 3 000 French troops backed by aircraft and with logistical support from the United States and some of France's European allies.