GAO, Mali

Islamic extremists attack populous northern Mali city

Black-robed Islamic extremists armed with AK-47 automatic rifles invaded Gao in wooden boats Sunday to launch a surprise attack on the most populous city in northern Mali, two weeks after French and Malian troops ousted the jihadists.

Gunfire echoed for hours across the city. The combat started around 2 p.m. in downtown Gao, and the fighting was continuing as night fell. Later, the sound of gunfire was replaced by the clattering of French military helicopters overhead.

The attack in Gao shows that the Islamic fighters, many of them well-armed and with combat experience, are determined and daring and it foreshadows a protracted campaign by France and other nations to restore government control in this vast Saharan nation in northwest Africa.

NEW ORLEANS

Four wounded by gunshots in Bourbon Street crowd

Gunshots erupted in a crowd of bead-wearing, drink-carrying late-night revelers on Bourbon Street during the countdown to Mardi Gras, wounding four people and sending bystanders running and screaming.

In a video taken by a witness Saturday night, a section of the frame shows people jostling and speaking with angry expressions. Police said that the video depicts an argument involving one of the shooting victims and the suspects.

Two men are seen leaving the argument and returning with a third, then approaching the victim as at least one of the suspects begins shooting, according to police. Four shots are heard in rapid succession, followed by screams as some in the crowd stagger into one another and a nearby wall.

A man whom police identified as one of the suspects is shown walking through the crowd with his arm extended as the gunshots are heard, although it’s difficult to make out a weapon.

Police said Sunday that they were seeking the three men and that they’ve identified one suspect.

The shootings wounded two men and two women, three of whom were treated and released Sunday. One man hit in the abdomen, thigh and pelvis was in stable condition Sunday after surgery the previous night, New Orleans police spokesman Hilal Williams said.

– From news service reports