French planes strike Mali rebel stronghold of Gao

PARIS Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:29am EST

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PARIS (Reuters) - French fighter jets and attack helicopters bombed rebel positions in the Malian town of Gao on Sunday, residents said, as France pushed its military campaign towards northern Islamist strongholds.

"Two helicopters are bombarding the positions of the Islamists, who are trying to fight back," said resident Soumaila Maiga. "The planes are so fast you only hear their sound in the sky."

A spokesman for Ansar Dine, one of the main Islamist factions, said French aircraft had also attacked its positions in the smaller towns of Lere and Douentza, further south.

(Reporting by Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo; writing by Daniel Flynn)

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