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Fighting in N. Mali Kills 6

At least six people were killed, including a civilian, during a second day of fighting between Islamist rebels and Malian and French forces in the northern Mali city of Gao.

Malian officials say the Islamists attacked the city Saturday with the fighting lasting into Sunday. It is unclear if any of the extremists remain in Gao.

French troops are getting ready to depart Mali and turn over peacekeeping operations to an African-led force.

French forces helped Malian solders take back the north from militants who seized control of the area last year and established strict Islamic law.



Also Sunday, Al-Qaida named a replacement for a key commander of its North African branch who was killed by Chadian soldiers in northern Mali last month. Algeria's Ennahar TV reports Djamel Okacha, also known as Yahia Abu El Hamam, will replace Abdelhamid Abou Zeid as a key leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The 34-year-old Okacha is a close aide of AQIM head Abdelmalek Droukdel.

Abou Zeid died in an offensive by French troops in northern Mali's Adrar des Ifoghas mountains in late February.

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