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People play football in a district of the city of Gao on February 7,... News Photo2012-2013 Northern Mali Conflict,City,Conflict,District,Gao City,Gao Region,Horizontal,Mali,PeoplePhotographer Collection: AFP 2013 AFPPeople play football in a district of the city of Gao on February 7, 2013. The French air force struck in January 2013 the northern Malian city of Gao, which had been controlled by the Al-Qaeda offshoot MUJAO, destroying Islamist bases and forcing the insurgents to flee. The town had for more than nine months been under the control of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, an offshoot of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). MUJAO had enforced an extreme form of Islamic law and the city of Gao, one of the three main cities in northern Mali, with Kidal and Timbuktu, had seen some of the worst punishments meted out in the name of sharia. AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)