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The Mali maelstrom: conflict in West Africa

Some of the latest images from the West African flashpoint

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A French soldiers lies on his mattress in a hangar at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013. France, which has poured hundreds of troops into the capital Bamako in recent days, carried out more air raids on Monday in the vast desert area seized last year by an Islamist alliance.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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A French soldier stands between two Mirage F1 fighter jets at the Malian army air base in Bamako, January 14, 2013. France plans to increase its troops in Mali to 2,500 in the days ahead and is working to speed up the deployment of West African troops for a campaign against Islamist rebels, the government said on Monday.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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Members of the Royal Air Force Air Movement Services untether French armoured personnel carriers as they land to deliver them to Bamako, Mali, January 15, 2013. Britain's Royal Air Force is lending logistical support to France as it sends forces to Mali.

ANDREW WINNING/REUTERS

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A Malian soldier stands guard outside where a meeting is taking place for the intervention force provided by the ECOWAS grouping of West African states, in Bamako January 15, 2013. France kept up its air strikes against Islamist rebels in Mali as plans to deploy African troops gathered pace on Tuesday amid concerns that delays could endanger a wider mission to dislodge al Qaeda and its allies.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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Minister of Defence Peter MacKay shakes hands with Canadian forces members of Squadron 429 at CFB Trenton, on Tuesday Jan. 15, 2013. Canada is sending the C-17 Globemaster to help France with the conflict in Mali.

Lars Hagberg/THE CANADIAN PRESS

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French soldiers refuel Armoured Personnel Carriers that were driven from Ivory Coast, at a Malian air base in Bamako January 15, 2013. The French army sent about 50 armoured vehicles to Mali from their military base in Ivory Coast. France hit Islamist rebels in Mali with fresh air strikes and deployed armoured cars on Tuesday, stepping up its intervention in the West African state.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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French soldiers arrange equipment in a tank at a Malian air base in Bamako January 15, 2013.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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This picture dated Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 and released by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French legionnaires of the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment based in Orange, southern France, exiting a military plane at Bamako airport, Mali.

Jeremy Lempin/AP

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French helicopters arrive at an air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. French troops launched their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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French soldiers stand next to a tank at a Malian air base in Bamako, January 15, 2013. France hit Islamist rebels in Mali with fresh air strikes and deployed armoured cars on Tuesday, stepping up its intervention in the West African state as regional allies struggled to accelerate their plans to send in troops.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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French soldiers listen as Malian President Dioncounda Traore speaks at a Malian air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013. French troops launched their first ground assault against Islamist rebels in Mali on Wednesday in a broadening of their operation against battle-hardened al Qaeda-linked fighters who have resisted six days of air strikes.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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In this picture released by the French Army Communication Audiovisual office (ECPAD) a French legionnaire cleans the barrel of an armored vehicle at an undisclosed location, north of the Malian capital, Bamako, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. French troops pressed northward in Mali toward territory occupied by radical Islamists on Wednesday, military officials said, announcing the start of a land assault that will put soldiers in direct combat "within hours."

Arnaud Roine/AP

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In this picture released by the French Army Communication Audiovisual office (ECPAD) French soldiers check a map at an undisclosed location, north of the Malian capital, Bamako, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.

Arnaud Roine/AP

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French soldiers listen as Malian President Dioncounda Traore speaks at a Malian air base in Bamako, Mali January 16, 2013.

JOE PENNEY/REUTERS

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This night vision photo provided by the ECPAD/French Army shows French military armored vehicles on Bamako airport, Tuesday, Jan.15, 2013. Islamists in Mali on Wednesday prevented residents from leaving the towns they are holding, and some fear they will be used as human shields by the extremists.

Jeremy Lempin/AP

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This photo provided by the ECPAD/French Army shows a Rafale jetfighter flying over Mali, Tuesday, Jan.15, 2013.

Adj Nicolas-Nelson Richard/AP

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