Feb. 24 - Residents of Gao in northern Mali start rebuilding their lives after the city was devastated in heavy fighting, as it was recaptured from islamist rebels. Sarah Toms reports.
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After hours of explosions and gunfire French and Malian forces drove out Islamist fighters on Friday, leaving Gao back under government control.
The fighting is over but for people living in the main northern city work begins to rebuild their lives.
This woman's shop and livelihood is in ruins.
(SOUNDBITE)(French) HAMCHATOU TOURE, SHOP KEEPER WHOSE SHOP IS DESTROYED, SAYING:
"What am I going to do, I have nothing, I've got nothing left, nothing to eat. They destroyed our lives."
Buildings are still in flames and the stench of death permeates this once busy market place.
Malian troops fired at the mayor's office with heavy machineguns and rocket propelled grenades.
Around 15 rebels were killed in the battle.
Residents and soldiers clear the bodies and check for booby traps.
Last month France intervened to help Mali oust militants who seized the north of the country last year.
Thousands of soldiers from African countries have also been deployed.
French forces say the fight against militants in the North is in the "final phase".
But here in Gao, recovery from the conflict is just beginning..
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