URGENT ¥¥¥ Mali troops battle Islamists in Gao, courthouse ablaze

Malian troops were battling armed Islamists in the northern Mali city of Gao on Thursday in clashes that left the main courthouse in flames, an AFP correspondent and a military source said.

Fighting had first erupted overnight in Gao, where a military official and witnesses reported heavy gunfire around two main entrances to the main city in the north of the country.