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Fresh attacks on Islamist bases

France’s air force launched fresh strikes in northern Mali today, targeting a camp used by jihadist fighters and a weapons depot for the Islamist insurgent group Ansar Dine, officials and residents said.

world Updated: Jan 14, 2013 00:17 IST

France’s air force launched fresh strikes in northern Mali today, targeting a camp used by jihadist fighters and a weapons depot for the Islamist insurgent group Ansar Dine, officials and residents said.

Witnesses said French fighter jets struck a camp used by Islamist militants in Lere, around 150 kilometres north of Konna, a key central town which government troops recaptured with French aerial backing on Friday.

“The Lere camp, which was abandoned by the Malian army and had been used by the Islamists, was completely razed by air raids,” a local official said, speaking from Mauritania where he took refuge.

Several other refugees said French air raids also struck weapons and ammunition depots used by Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), a group whose leaders are connected to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Security sources speaking on condition of anonymity said today's air strikes also hit targets near Douentza and Nampala.

France has said its intervention was to stop a southward advance by Islamist insurgents that threatened the capital Bamako.

French hostage, soldiers killed A French hostage and two French soldiers have been killed during a failed secret service rescue mission in Somalia.

The failure of the overnight helicopter raid in the southern town of Bulo Marer, about 70 miles south of Mogadishu, came as the France continued a separate African operation in Mali.