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US postpones Mali military exercise amid attacks

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) – The United States says it has postponed a major military exercise in Mali because the Malian army is busy responding to attacks from Tuareg rebels.

A Tuareg separatist group began attacking towns in Mali on Jan. 17, and has targeted at least seven localities across the country’s vast north.

The exercise, called Flintlock 2012, was due to bring African, European and U.S. troops together to train later this month.

One of the main aims of the Flintlock exercises is to build counterterrorism capacity in African armies.

Mali and its neighbors in western Africa have faced growing attacks from al-Qaida’s North Africa branch, which kidnaps foreigners for ransom and holds them in the desert.

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