Bamako - Backed by planes from foreign allies, the Malian army on Friday launched a counter-offensive against Islamists in a bid to stem their advance, a military officer told AFP.

“Our offensive has started,” the officer said on condition of anonymity. “The objective is to retake total control of the (central) town of Konna and to proceed from there.”

The source said that “military planes from friendly countries” were being used in the attack.

Konna was seized by Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists on Thursday. - Sapa-AFP