Mali army reinforces town near capital after Islamist sighting

BAMAKO Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:17pm GMT

Ivory Coast army chief-of-staff Soumaila Bakayoko (L) and Malian army chief-of-staff Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele (C) inspect Malian troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney

Ivory Coast army chief-of-staff Soumaila Bakayoko (L) and Malian army chief-of-staff Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele (C) inspect Malian troops at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney

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BAMAKO (Reuters) - The Malian army sped reinforcements on Thursday to a town close to the capital Bamako after Islamist fighters were spotted in the nearby border region with Mauritania, residents and a military source said.

"Banamba is in a state of alert. Reinforcements have been sent. Nigerian troops expected to arrive in Bamako today could be deployed there to secure the zone," a senior Malian military source told Reuters.

An inhabitant of Banamba, 140 km (86 miles) from the capital, reported the arrival of soldiers after fighters belonging to an Islamist coalition battling French forces further north were seen in Boron, an area along the porous border.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Daniel Flynn)

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