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French military keeps up airstrikes against Mali radical Islamists; troops from Chad arrive

  • c24e55486e462c02270f6a706700954a.jpg

    A French soldier waits for a French Puma transport helicopter to land on the soccer stadium to test the field in the center of Niono, some 400 kms (300 miles) North of the capital Bamako Sunday Jan. 20, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday, trying to stop radical Islamists from striking against communities closer to the capital and cutting off their supply line, a French official said. The move around Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said that the city whose capture prompted the French military intervention in the first place was no longer in the hands of the extremists.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

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    Travelers climb back on a transport truck after being checked by Malian soldiers at a checkpoint in Niono, Mali, some 400 kms (300 miles) North of the capital Bamako Saturday Jan. 19, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday, trying to stop radical Islamists from striking against communities closer to the capital and cutting off their supply line, a French official said. The move around Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said that the city whose capture prompted the French military intervention in the first place was no longer in the hands of the extremists.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

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    French foreign legionnaires get ready in Niono, some 400 kilometers (249 miles) north of the capital Bamako, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. The Malian military announced late Saturday that the government was now controlling Diabaly, marking an important accomplishment for the French-led offensive to oust the extremists from northern and central Mali. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

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    French troops walk in Niono, some 400 kilometers (249 miles) north of the capital Bamako Sunday Jan. 20, 2013. The Malian military announced late Saturday that the government was now controlling Diabaly, marking an important accomplishment for the French-led offensive to oust the extremists from northern and central Mali. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

  • f0bccdf26dcf2902270f6a706700fabf.jpg

    A French Puma transport helicopter lands to test the field in the center of Niono, some 400 kms (300 miles) North of the capital Bamako Sunday Jan. 20, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday, trying to stop radical Islamists from striking against communities closer to the capital and cutting off their supply line, a French official said. The move around Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said that the city whose capture prompted the French military intervention in the first place was no longer in the hands of the extremists. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

The French military says its fighter planes and helicopter gunships have carried out a dozen operations over the weekend in Mali, most of them aimed at "terrorist vehicles."

The report came late Sunday as Mali's president thanked France for its military support in ousting the Islamists from some of their strongholds in northern and central Mali.

France said some 400 troops from Nigeria, Togo and Benin had arrived Sunday in Bamako.

Troops from Chad, who are considered hardened fighters familiar with the desert-like terrain of northern Mali, also arrived in Mali.

France launched its military offensive on Jan. 11, but has said that African nations must take the lead. A top official with the West African regional bloc said Sunday the cost of the African intervention could top $500 million.