French seize control of key Mali town of Diabaly
DIABALY, Mali (AP) - French troops took control on Monday of the Malian town of Diabaly, patrolling the streets in armoured personnel carriers and inspecting the charred remains of a pickup truck with mounted machine gun left behind by the fleeing militants.
The armed Islamist fighters seized Diabaly a week ago but left after days of being pounded by French airstrikes, marking the first tangible victory by the French intervention forces.
The military operation is aimed at stopping the Islamists from encroaching toward the capital in Mali's south from their strongholds in the vast desert north of Mali.
Diabaly fell into rebel hands on last Monday, and residents said those who fled were forced to escape on foot through rice fields. The Islamist fighters insinuated themselves with civilians before leaving, though there was a possibility that some had remained.