GAO, Mali — French and Malian troops appeared on Monday to have reasserted control of this strategic settlement in northern Mali after a protracted firefight with Islamist extremists who infiltrated the city after being chased from it two weeks ago.
Malian troops took up position on virtually every street corner on Monday and fresh bullet holes scarred a police headquarters, testimony to Sunday’s fighting in Gao, which is at the edge of the desert and is the largest population center in the north.
The battle between Islamist militants and a force of Malian and French troops, which continued for much of Sunday afternoon, suggested that the quick French campaign against the local Al Qaeda affiliate and its allies was not over.
Overnight, a series of explosions echoed in the early hours of Monday but the cause of the blasts was not immediately clear.
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