Soldiers clash in Mali’s capital, 1st Ld-Writethru

Malian soldiers man a checkpoint on the banks of the Niger river outside Gao, northern Mali, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. French troops began to withdraw from Timbuktu Thursday after securing the fabled city as they ramped up their mission in another northern Mali city, searching for Islamic extremists who may be mixing among the local population. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)GAO, Mali (AP) — In northern Mali, a suicide bomber hit a checkpoint Friday, killing only himself in the first known suicide bombing since French military forces intervened in this chaotic African nation whose northern half was ruled by armed Islamic extremists.

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