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French troops arrive at Bamako’s airport Thursday. Fighting raged in one Mali town, airstrikes hit another and army troops raced to protect a third, on the seventh day of the French-led military intervention to wrest back Mali’s north from al Qaida-linked groups.

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Mali towns marked by fighting, airstrikes in battle against al-Qaida

French special forces inched closer to an al-Qaida-held town, fighting erupted in another center and army troops raced to protect a third, as the Islamic extremists controlling northern Mali ceded no ground Thursday, digging into the areas they already occupy and sending out scouts to widen their reach.

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