BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The French-led effort to take back Mali's north from Islamic extremists continues.
Officials and residents say French fighter jets bombed rebel targets in a major city in Mali's north Sunday, pounding the airport as well as training camps, warehouses and buildings used by the al-Qaida-linked Islamists controlling the area.
The three-day-old undertaking began with airstrikes by combat helicopters in the small town of Konna. It has grown to a coordinated attack by fighter jets which have bombarded at least five towns, of which Gao, which was attacked Sunday afternoon, is the largest.
In addition to Gao and Konna, there are reports of other targets including a rice growing region on a strategic route to a military camp.
More than 400 French troops have been deployed to the country in the all-out effort to win back the territory from the well-armed rebels, who seized control of an area larger than France nine months ago. What began as a French offensive has now grown to include seven other countries, including logistical support from the U.S. and Europe. The United States is providing communications and transport help, while Britain is sending C17 aircrafts to help Mali's allies transport troops to the frontlines.