Fierce fighting rages in Mali

Associated Press
This picture released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French soldiers of the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment boarding to Bamako, the capital from Mali, at the N'Djamena's airport, in Chad, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. The battle to retake Mali's north from the al-Qaida-linked groups controlling it began in earnest Saturday, after hundreds of French forces deployed to the country and began aerial bombardments to drive back the Islamic extremists from a town seized earlier this week. (AP Photo/ R.Nicolas-Nelson, Ecpad)

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French and Malian troops fought Islamists on the streets of Gao and a car bomb exploded in Kidal on Feb. 21, as fighting showed little sign of abating weeks before France plans to start withdrawing some forces.

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