French jets strike Mali’s most important cities

Fighting erupted between rebels and Malian soldiers in the city whose capture by militants first prompted French military intervention, while French forces kept up their bombardments of another key town, fleeing residents said on Thursday.

Mali soldiers claimed to have recaptured the central town of Konna, although this could not be confirmed, while the French continued airstrikes on the rebel-held town of Diabaly, at least 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.

French bombs continued to hit rebel positions there overnight but the town remained under the control of the rebels who have advanced south.

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced an increase of troops in Mali to 1,400.

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