Fierce fighting rages in Mali

Associated Press
This picture released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French fighter pilot getting ready to take off with a Mirage 2000 D, at Kossei camp in N'Djamena, 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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