Fierce fighting rages in Mali

Associated Press
Statoil's CEO Helge Lund, arrives to meet at the centre  for relatives to the hostages in Algeria, which has been established near the airport,  in Bergen, Norway, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Algerian forces launched a military assault Thursday at a natural gas plant in the Sahara Desert, trying to free dozens of foreign hostages held by militants who have ties to Mali's rebel Islamists, diplomats and an Algerian security official said. Yet information on the Algerian operation varied wildly and the conflicting reports that emerged from the remote area were impossible to verify independently (AP Photo/Hakon Mosvold /NTB Scanpix) NORWAY OUT

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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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