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Article posted: 1/17/2013 9:27 AM

Town 90 miles from Mali capital on alert

French troops pressed northward in Mali toward territory occupied by radical Islamists on Wednesday, military officials said, announcing the start of a land assault that will put soldiers in direct combat “within hours.”

French troops pressed northward in Mali toward territory occupied by radical Islamists on Wednesday, military officials said, announcing the start of a land assault that will put soldiers in direct combat "within hours."

 

Associated Press

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By Associated Press

BAMAKO, Mali -- A town 90 miles from Mali's capital was put on alert Wednesday, and roughly 100 Malian soldiers sped there after a reported sighting of jihadists in the vicinity.

Banamba is connected by a secondary road to the garrison town of Diabaly, which was taken by Islamic extremists and has been the scene of intense fighting with French special forces.

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A county official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly said they had received reports that a rebel convoy had left Diabaly on the road connecting it to Banamba.

"We don't have a garrison here, we have no defenses. So the military has come to secure the town," he said. "But from Monday to today, no jihadists have entered our town."

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