Malian army says has seized major town from Islamist rebels

BAMAKO Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:51am EST

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BAMAKO Jan 10 (Reuters) - Mali's army forced Islamist rebels out of an important northeastern town on Wednesday, a senior army official said, the first major pushback by government forces since the north of the country fell to insurgents last year.

"The army has retaken Douentza, we just had confirmation that the jihadists have withdrawn following the clash," an officer at the military junta headquarters told Reuters on Thursday, requesting not to be named.

It was not immediately possible to independently confirm the ouster of rebels from Douentza, an important gateway between north and south some 600 kilometres (375 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako seized by the rebels in September.

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