Over the past year, Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda made headway carving out a post in Mali while officials in Washington, Paris and African capitals struggled with how to contain them. The predominant idea seemed to be to let African troops deal with them. Last Friday, a surprise French assault after repeated calls for help upended those plans and triggered a Wednesday raid in Algeria, with hostage-takers saying their acts were to retaliate for French actions in Mali. West African army chiefs met Tuesday to plan the deployment of about 3,300 troops as part of a UN-backed intervention.
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