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Over 100 killed in fighting over Malian Town

More than 100 people, including rebels and government troops, have been killed when the two sides were wrestling control of the strategic Malian town of Konna, said a Malian military source on Saturday.

The source said "more than 100 rebels" have been killed during the fighting.

Meanwhile, a witness said he had counted 148 bodies among which several dozens were government troops. Army and its allies combing Konna to eliminate pockets resistance.

"We must avoid what happened to us on Thursday ... Now, we need to ensure that there is no pocket resistance before continuing on to other positions of the Jihadists," said a military source on Saturday.

The military said the rebels now have no possibility to circumvent Konna to attack the south.

According to military sources, the goal is to liberate all the occupied regions before Jan. 20, the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the Malian army.

Fighting has been going on in recent days between the armed rebel groups and the Malian army in Konna. On Friday, France confirmed the intervention of French troops to support Malian army to stop the advance of the rebel groups further to the south.

The rebels, who have occupied several major towns in northern Mali since March last year in the wake of a military coup, overtook Konna on Thursday after days of fighting with the government troops.

[Source: Xinhua, Bamako, 12Jan13]

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