African troops head to Mali as battle for north rages; 11 civilians dead

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Associated Press

Posted on January 13, 2013 at 8:34 AM

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The first days of the battle against Islamic extremists holding Mali's north have left at least 11 civilians dead.

The president's office says those killed include three children who threw themselves into a river and drowned trying to avoid falling bombs.

Meanwhile, troops from Mali's West African neighbors are expected to join hundreds of French soldiers in the fight. Niger (nee-ZHEHR'), Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria agreed to send soldiers, a day after France authorized airstrikes, dispatching fighter jets from neighboring Chad and bombing rebel positions north of the last town still under government control.

The African soldiers will work alongside French special forces, including a contingent that arrived yesterday to secure the capital against retaliatory attacks by the al-Qaida-linked rebel groups occupying Mali's northern half.

The United Nations had cautioned that a military intervention needed to be properly planned, and diplomats said the operation was unlikely to begin before September. But the rebels' push south prompted an appeal for help from Mali's president.

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080-c-13-(Rukmini Callimachi (RUK'-mih-nee kah-lee-MAH'-kee), AP correspondent)-"sent from Chad"-AP correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports that there's a lull in the fighting following French military intervention. (13 Jan 2013)

<<CUT *080 (01/13/13)>> 00:13 "sent from Chad"

081-c-08-(Rukmini Callimachi (RUK'-mih-nee kah-lee-MAH'-kee), AP correspondent)-"pilot was killed"-AP correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports that French miltiary intervention in Mali has already led to loss of life. (13 Jan 2013)

<<CUT *081 (01/13/13)>> 00:08 "pilot was killed"

079-c-16-(Rukmini Callimachi (RUK'-mih-nee kah-lee-MAH'-kee), AP correspondent)-"start arriving today"-AP correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports that African troops are heading to Mali as the battle for the north of the country continues. (13 Jan 2013)

<<CUT *079 (01/13/13)>> 00:16 "start arriving today"

022-c-10-(Rukmini Callimachi (RUK'-mih-nee kah-lee-MAH'-kee), AP correspondent)-"didn't make it"-AP correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports the French helicopter pilot died during his evacuation after being shot down. (13 Jan 2013)

<<CUT *022 (01/13/13)>> 00:10 "didn't make it"

023-c-07-(Rukmini Callimachi (RUK'-mih-nee kah-lee-MAH'-kee), AP correspondent)-"mostly in Bamako"-AP correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports a contingent of French soldiers has arrived in Mali since France raised its terror threat level. (13 Jan 2013)

<<CUT *023 (01/13/13)>> 00:07 "mostly in Bamako"

024-c-08-(Rukmini Callimachi (RUK'-mih-nee kah-lee-MAH'-kee), AP correspondent)-"bombs and terrorism"-AP correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports it remains to be seen whether the al-Qaida-linked groups have the ability to strike back, as they claim. (13 Jan 2013)

<<CUT *024 (01/13/13)>> 00:08 "bombs and terrorism"

APPHOTO PAR110: This picture released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French soldiers of the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment boarding to Bamako, the capital from Mali, at the N'Djamena's airport, in Chad, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. The battle to retake Mali's north from the al-Qaida-linked groups controlling it began in earnest Saturday, after hundreds of French forces deployed to the country and began aerial bombardments to drive back the Islamic extremists from a town seized earlier this week. (AP Photo/ R.Nicolas-Nelson, Ecpad) (12 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO PAR110 (01/12/13)>>

APPHOTO PAR109: This picture released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French fighter pilot getting ready to take off with a Mirage 2000 D, at Kossei camp in N'Djamena, Chad, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. The battle to retake Mali's north from the al-Qaida-linked groups controlling it began in earnest Saturday, after hundreds of French forces deployed to the country and began aerial bombardments to drive back the Islamic extremists from a town seized earlier this week. (AP Photo/ R.Nicolas-Nelson, Ecpad) (12 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO PAR109 (01/12/13)>>

APPHOTO PAR101: This picture released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French Mirage 2000 D aircraft flying to N'Djamena overnight January 11 to 12, after taking off from the French military base of Nancy. The battle to retake Mali's north from the al-Qaida-linked groups controlling it began in earnest Saturday, after hundreds of French forces deployed to the country and began aerial bombardments to drive back the Islamic extremists from a town seized earlier this week. (AP Photo/ R.Nicolas-Nelson, Ecpad) (9 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO PAR101 (01/09/13)>>

APPHOTO PAR101: French President Francois Hollande, right, speaks with members of Malian associations in France during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nigeria agreed on Saturday to send soldiers, a day after France authorized air strikes, dispatching fighter jets from neighboring Chad and bombing rebel positions north of Mopti, the last Malian-controlled town. (AP Photo/Philippe Wojazer, Pool) (12 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO PAR101 (01/12/13)>>

APPHOTO PAR112: This picture released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French soldiers loading missiles on Mirage 2000 D, at Kossei camp in N'Djamena, in Chad, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. The battle to retake Mali's north from the al-Qaida-linked groups controlling it began in earnest Saturday, after hundreds of French forces deployed to the country and began aerial bombardments to drive back the Islamic extremists from a town seized earlier this week. (AP Photo/ R.Nicolas-Nelson, Ecpad) (12 Jan 2013)

<<APPHOTO PAR112 (01/12/13)>>

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