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Islamists attack north Mali city after suicide bombings

Published on Feb 11, 2013 5:56 AM
Malian soldiers stand guard on Feb 10, 2013 in the Malian northern city of Gao. Fights between Islamist rebels and Malian soldiers broke out in the centre of Gao, recently taken over by the French military to Malian armed Islamist groups, hit by two suicide bombings within two days. -- PHOTO: AFP

GAO, Mali (AFP) - Islamist gunmen attacked the largest city in northern Mali on Sunday following two straight days of suicide bombings, intensifying their insurgency on territory reclaimed by French-led forces.

In the first large-scale urban guerrilla assault of the conflict, rebels from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) attacked Malian troops in the streets of central Gao, sending residents running for cover as Kalashnikov bullets and 14.5-millimetre rounds pierced the air.

Rocket-propelled grenade explosions and fire from heavy machine guns and light weapons resounded late into the afternoon before dying down in the evening, when a power cut plunged the city into darkness.

A French Tiger attack helicopter was circulating over the neighbourhood around the governor's offices and the central police station, the focal points of the attack.

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