Nigeria to send troops to Mali in next 24 hours

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BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- Nigeria says it will send nearly 200 troops to Mali within the next 24 hours.

Nigerian defense spokesman Col. Mohammed Yerima said Tuesday that Nigeria will send about 900 troops to Mali.

The announcement comes as West African nations pledge support for a French-led mission to oust Islamic extremists from Mali.

French President Francois Hollande launched an attack on the militants, who are linked to al-Qaida, last week after the rebels began advancing south.

France's action pre-empted a United Nations-approved plan for a military operation in Mali, which was expected to start about nine months from now. Hollande decided that a military response to the extremists could not wait that long.