Do we laugh or cry here?
Via CBS News:
Despite intensive aerial bombardments by French warplanes, Islamist insurgents grabbed more territory in Mali Monday and moved closer to the capital, French and Malian authorities said.
In the latest setback, the al Qaeda-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 French government ordered the immediate evacuation of all French nationals living in the Malian town of Segou, located around 130 miles from the capital. 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.
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 by seizing Diabaly, they appear to have now succeeded in a flanking move getting around the 200-mile-long belt, opening a second front in the broad southern section of the country, knifing in from the west on government forces.
The French military, which began battling in Mali on Friday, expanded its aerial bombing campaign of northern Mali, launching airstrikes for the first time in central Mali to combat the new threat. But it failed to halt the advance of the rebels, who now are only 250 miles from the capital Bamako, in the far south. Before France sent its forces in on Friday, the closest known spot the Islamists were to the capital was 420 miles away near the central belt, though they might have infiltrated closer than that.