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Mali's President Says in 'Total Fight' With Al-Qaida

Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure says his government is waging a "total fight " against al-Qaida, following deadly battles with the group's north African branch last week.

Mr. Toure said late Monday that al-Qaida members in the Sahel and Saharan regions, along with their accomplices, are Mali's enemies.

He said Mali must work with neighboring countries to win the battle and called for a regional summit to be held to send a "strong signal" to al-Qaida and all armed groups in the Sahel.

That summit has been postponed several times.

Mali's government says troops fought with al-Qaida militants in the Timbuktu region Friday and Saturday, with both sides recording losses. Reports from Mali say at least 20 soldiers were missing following the battles.

A Malian security official said Mali is planning a major operation with Algeria and other regional states against al-Qaida.

Mali launched a crackdown on the regional al-Qaida group, known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb, after it killed a Malian security officer on June 10.

The government says troops killed 26 Islamist fighters in a June 17 raid on the group's base in northern Mali.

The al-Qaida group executed a British hostage in May, marking the first time that it had carried out such a threat.

The group seized Edwin Dyer and five other Western tourists along the Mali-Niger border in December and January.

Four of the hostages were later released, but the group still holds a Swiss citizen, Werner Greitner.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters