Insurgents close on Mali?s capital

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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 defence 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. The Islamist fighters control the north and had been blocked in Mali?s narrow waist in the central part of the country. But they appeared to have now done a flanking move in the 300-kilometre long belt, opening a second front in the broad southern section of the country, knifing in from the west on government forces.

Mauritania lies to the west of Mali and its armed forces have been put on high alert, said a military official there who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to reporters. To the south, the nation of Burkina Faso has sent military reinforcements to its border and set up roadblocks

Source : AFP

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