Mali Islamists gain ground despite French fighting

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BAMAKO, Mali — Despite intensive aerial bombardments by French warplanes, Islamist insurgents grabbed more territory in Mali today and moved 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, said France’s Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The French government ordered the immediate evacuation of all French nationals living in the Malian town of Segou. The evacuation order was confirmed by a French citizen in Segou, who insisted upon anonymity because of the security situation. With the seizure of Diabaly the militants are within 50 miles of Segou.

French President Francois Hollande authorized the airstrikes last week after the Islamists began their push south.

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