Malian and French troops have retaken the town of Hombori, officials say, as they continue their campaign to regain control of northern Mali from rebels.
Hombori lies about 160km (100 miles) from the Islamist stronghold of Gao.
Earlier, French warplanes reportedly bombed rebel positions, fuel stores and ammunition dumps near Gao.
But there were also reports that rebels had blown up a bridge linking the east of the country with Niger, from where African troops plan to open a front.
The bridge is situated in the town of Tassiga, which lies on the quickest route from Niger to Gao, and spans a canyon.