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Mission to Mali

French soldiers land in Mali to bolster an ongoing campaign to push al-Qaeda linked militants out of their strongholds in the north. France is pouring troops into Bamako -- a move welcomed in the country's capital. France hopes to shatter the Islamist domination of northern Mali. Rebels say Mali will be the next Afghanistan. A leader told Europe 1 radio that "France has opened the gates of hell for all the French," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius calls the operation a duty to its former colony (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER LAURENT FABIUS SAYING: "By intervening in Mali, France is assuming its national and international obligations. Essential interests are in play -- for us, for Africa, for Europe and for the whole of the international community. Therefore, we had to act. " On Monday Mali's President visited the wounded in the hospital. Tens of thousands have fled the violence. Hundreds of thousands are displaced. Many fear Mali could become a launchpad for terrorism attacks on the West. France plans to deploy 2,500 soldiers to help prevent that fear from becoming a reality.

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