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Fighting surges in northern Mali

From Katarina Hoije, For CNN
April 1, 2013 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Fighting is heavy and still ongoing" in Timbuktu, Mali, a military official says
  • At least two militants are killed in clashes, which started after a bomb blast
  • The fighting comes months after French-led troops launched an effort to flush out militants

Bamako, Mali (CNN) -- At least two militants were killed as Islamists and troops clashed Sunday in northern Mali, a military official said.

The fighting between Islamists and French and Malian forces began in Timbuktu, Mali, after a car bomb blast at the city's western entrance Saturday night, Malian Army Capt. Modibo Naman Traore said.

After the suicide blast, which injured one Malian soldier, Islamists launched an attack on the city, Traore said.

"Fighting is heavy and still ongoing," Traore said Sunday. "We are now focusing on encircling the Islamists to drive them out of town."

The clashes come two months after French-led troops launched an effort to flush out militants in northern Mali.

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