Mali is urging the European Union to step up support for Africa's Sahel countries amid a series of extremist attacks, as France mourns two officers killed during a hostage rescue mission in the region.

Foreign Minister Tiebile Drame said Tuesday that "a race against time" has started following attacks in central Mali and across the border in northern Burkina Faso.

Speaking after a meeting of EU and Sahel country government ministers, Drame said that "we need support. We need to speed up procedures. We need international mobilization in a concrete way."

Burkina Faso has been increasingly destabilized by jihadists from Mali. Attacks have included the kidnapping of foreigners.

West Africa's Sahel region also includes lawless Libya's neighbors Chad and Niger, as well as Mauritania.