Malian town of Gao celebrates exit of Islamist extremists as French, Malian forces push north - InfoNews

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Malian town of Gao celebrates exit of Islamist extremists as French, Malian forces push north

In this image taken during an official visit organized by the Malian army to the town of Konna, some 680 kilometers (430 miles) north of Mali's capital Bamako Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, a Malian army vehicle used by islamist rebels stands charred. One wing of Mali's Ansar Dine rebel group has split off to create its own movement, saying that they want to negotiate a solution to the crisis in Mali, in a declaration that indicates at least some of the members of the al-Qaida linked group are searching for a way out of the extremist movement in the wake of French air strikes. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
January 28, 2013 - 12:47 AM

SEVARE, Mali - Residents of the northern Malian city of Gao are celebrating the arrival of French and Malian forces.

The French-led mission entered Gao over the weekend and took control of the airport and a major bridge and patrolled the town.

Gao, the largest city in northern Mali, had been under the grip of radical Islamists for nearly 10 months.

Gao resident Hassane Maiga, reached on the phone, said jubilant residents joyously greeted the French and Malian troops.

Meanwhile, French and Malian forces are also advancing on the fabled desert town of Timbuktu.

The Islamists seized control of the north after a military coup last March created chaos. So far the French have met little resistance though it remains to be seen whether the Malians can maintain control of the towns.

News from © The Associated Press, 2013
The Associated Press

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