(Photo: Photo: Brahima Ouedraogo/IRIN)
Heavy fighting has broken out in the centre of Gao, the largest town in northern Mali. A car bomb in the northern Mali town of Kidal has killed one person and injured another, according to a journalist at the scene.
Malian troops were fighting Islamists in Gao on Thursday.
The clashes left the main courthouse in flames.
One person was killed and another injured by the Kidal bomb, according to a journalist in the town speaking to the Reuters news agency.
Other witnesses told the AFP agency that two civilians had been injured.
The blast was within a kilometre of the camp where French and Malian soldiers have been stationed since they arrived in the town on 29 January, following its takeover by dissident Islamists and Tuareg separatists from Al Qaida-linked armed groups.
A French soldier was killed on Tuesday in fighting in the Ifoghas mountains, north of Kidal, where the hardline Islamists have taken refuge. About 20 rebels were also killed, according to the French military.
Heavy weapons fire was heard at at least two entries to Gao overnight, Malian military sources said Wednesday.
Rebel fighters tried to carry out suicide attacks in the city, in one case successfully, on 8-10 February.