In this Nov. 24, 2012 photo, soldiers from a Malian army special unit sit atop pick-ups, following a training exercise in the Barbe military zone, in Mopti, Mali. Secretary-General Ban

 

              In this Nov. 24, 2012 photo, soldiers from a Malian army special unit sit atop pick-ups, following a training exercise in the Barbe military zone, in Mopti, Mali.  Secretary-General Ban
In this Nov. 24, 2012 photo, soldiers from a Malian army special unit sit atop pick-ups, following a training exercise in the Barbe military zone, in Mopti, Mali. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, Jan. 11, 2013 that France, Senegal and Nigeria have responded to an appeal from Mali's President Dioncounda Traore for help to counter an offensive by al-Qaida-linked militants who control the northern half of the country and are heading south. The U.N. chief said that assisting the Malian defense forces push back against the Islamist armed groups is "very important."(AP Photo/Francois Rihouay)