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Updated Friday, January 25, 2013 at 05:54 AM

Mali army pushes farthest east toward city of Gao

By BABA AHMED
Associated Press

Mali's military has made its farthest push east toward the Islamist stronghold in the city of Gao.

Residents in the town of Hombori said Friday that Malian soldiers were seen arriving there the night before.

Hombori is located 93 miles (150 kilometers) beyond the current line of control in Douentza, which government forces reclaimed earlier in the week.

The push puts the military just 155 miles (250 kilometers) away from Gao, one of the three main northern cities held by Islamists since last April.

Malian soldiers are attempting to recapture northern Mali from the Islamic extremists with the help of the French military and troops from other African nations.

The Islamists have retreated from several cities in central Mali but still control the north.


ARNAUD ROINE / AP
In this picture dated Tuesday and released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD), French soldiers conduct operations in the bush near Niono, central Mali.




JEROME DELAY / AP
Malian women sift wheat in a field near Segou, central Mali. French troops in armored personnel carriers rolled through on Monday, winning praise from residents of this besieged town after Malian forces retook control of it with French help a week after radical Islamists invaded.




JEROME DELAY / AP
An unidentified man takes a picture of the charred remains of trucks used by radical Islamists on the outskirt of Diabaly, Mali.




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