Col. Shehu Usman Abdulkadir, a Nigerian in charge of regional forces heading to Mali, told The Associated Press that the African force will be expanded from an anticipated 3,200 troops to some 5,700 — a figure that does not include the 2,200 soldiers promised by Chad.
Most analysts had said the earlier figure was far too small to confront the Islamists given the huge territory they hold.
The Mali conflict has been dominating the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which runs through Monday. On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met in the Ethiopian capital with Mali's interim president, Dioncounda Traore.
Ban "stressed the need to pursue a political process that would lead to a consensual roadmap for the transition to full constitutional order, in parallel with ongoing military operations," according to a U.N. statement.
Traore is heading a civilian transitional government that was set up following the coup last March. No date has been set yet for elections to choose a new government.
Associated Press writers Baba Ahmed and Rukmini Callimachi contributed to this report.
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