France says Diabaly falls to Malian insurgents
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Despite intensive aerial bombardments by French warplanes, Islamist insurgents grabbed more territory in Mali on Monday and got much closer to the capital, French and Malian authorities said.
In the latest setback, the al-Qaida-linked extremists overran the garrison village of Diabaly in central Mali, France’s defense minister said in Paris. Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday the rebels “took Diabaly after fierce fighting and resistance from the Malian army that couldn’t hold them back.”
The Malian military is in disarray and has let many towns fall with barely a shot fired since the insurgency began almost a year ago in the northwest African nation.
French military forces, who began battling in Mali on Friday, widened their aerial bombing campaign against Islamic extremists occupying northern Mali, launching airstrikes for the first time in central Mali to combat the new threat. The rebels, who come from several nations besides Mali, had been bottled up in the narrow neck of central Mali. But by now sweeping in from the west, they are now only 400 kilometers (250 miles) from Mali’s capital, Bamako, in southern Mali.