Those who have fled "mentioned that large amounts of money are being offered to civilians to fight against the Malian army and its supporters," she said.
Meanwhile, forces remained on high alert in Banamba, a town just 90 miles (144 kilometers) from the Malian capital, Bamako, after a reported sighting of jihadists in the vicinity. Roughly 100 Malian soldiers sped Thursday to Banamba, which would be the closest the extremists have come to Bamako.
France has encountered fierce resistance from the extremist groups, whose tentacles extend not only over a territory the size of Afghanistan in Mali, but also another 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the northeast in Algeria, where fighters stormed a BP-operated plant and took dozens of foreigners hostages, including Americans.
They demanded the immediate end of the hostilities in Mali, with one commander, Oumar Ould Hamaha, saying that they are now "globalizing the conflict" in revenge for the military assault on Malian soil.
On Thursday, France increased its troop strength in Mali to 1,400, said French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
West African neighbors also have begun sending troops to aid the French-led mission, with Togolese forces arriving Thursday.
Nigeria has offered another 900 soldiers, while Chad has said it will send 2,000 to aid the mission.
A former French colony, Mali once enjoyed a reputation as one of West Africa's most stable democracies with the majority of its 15.8 million people practicing a moderate form of Islam. That changed last March, following a coup in the capital which created the disarray that allowed Islamist extremists to take over the main cities in the distant north.