French troops battled Islamist rebels in Mali Wednesday in a war that escalated as Al-Qaeda-linked fighters killed two people in neighbouring Algeria and claimed to have taken 41 foreigners hostage in retaliation for France's "crusade".
Malian soldiers are deployed around the 101 airbase near Bamako during a visit by Malian President Dioncounda Traore to welcome French troops on January 16, 2013. French troops battled Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday as Al Qaeda-linked fighters claimed to have taken 41 foreigners hostage in a retaliatory attack in neighbouring Algeria.
After days of airstrikes on Islamist positions in the northern territory the rebels seized in April, French and Malian ground forces battled the insurgents in the central towns of Diabaly and Konna, north of the capital, Bamako.
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