AU to send troops to fight Sahel militants

The African Union (AU) says it plans to send 3,000 troops to the Sahel, where international and regional forces are struggling to contain Islamist militants.

The head of the AU’s Peace and Security Commission, Smail Chergui, told the AFP news agency that the deployment would last for six months.

It is unclear which countries will provide troops or who will fund the operation.

This move is a sign of desperation, BBC reported. There were reports that Al-Qaeda militants and Islamic State fighters are cooperating in the region.

Thousands of regional troops, French and US soldiers, and a UN intervention force have been unable to contain a myriad of Islamist groups striking terror across the Sahel.

Their attacks are intensifying and their reach spreading, with previously peaceful Burkina Faso hit hard in recent months.

France is now using armed drones against the militants and recently boosted its presence in the region to more than 5,000 troops.

But the terrain is tough, with Islamist and other armed groups able to melt into the vast stretches of semi-desert that make up the Sahel.

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