Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

French airstrikes push back Islamists in central Mali

SEGOU, Mali — Malian and French troops appeared to recapture two important central Malian towns Monday, pushing back an advance by Islamist militants who have overrun the country's northern half.

French soldiers in armored vehicles rolled through the town of Diabaly, about 275 miles from the capital, Bamako, to cheers from residents.

Islamist fighters overran Diabaly a week ago, the closest they have come to Bamako. Worried that there was little to stop them from rolling into the capital, where many French citizens live, France stepped into the fight.

Suddenly a long-simmering standoff with the Islamist groups holding the north had been transformed into a war involving French forces, the kind of event the West hoped to avoid. U.S. officials have long warned that Western involvement could stir anti-Western sentiment and provoke terrorist attacks, a fear that seemed to be realized when militants stormed a gas facility in Algeria last week, resulting in the deaths of 37 foreign hostages.

Even after French forces entered the fight in Mali, driving back the Islamists would prove more difficult than officials initially suggested. Rather than flee, many of the militants in Diabaly seemed to dig in, taking over homes and putting the civilian population in the crossfire.

But they eventually fled Friday morning, residents said, in the face of the relentless airstrikes.

Militants have also abandoned the town of Douentza, which they held for several months, the Associated Press reported.

French airstrikes push back Islamists in central Mali 01/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Buckhorn's joke about pointing machine guns at media draws fire

    Military

    TAMPA — At a time when journalists are under fire both literally and figuratively, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's "joke" last week at a military conference about pointing twin 50-caliber machine guns at journalists and watching them "cry like little girls" rankled several war correspondents in the room.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn fires a .50 caliber machine gun from a rigid hull inflatable boat during a  Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center last year.JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times
  2. For starters: Rays vs. Angels and Trout, with Odorizzi on mound

    Blogs

    After losing Sunday's game but winning a third straight series, the Rays open a four-game series tonight against the Angels and Mike Trout.

    RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, RHP J.C. Ramirez for the Angels.

    Evan Longoria is getting a DH day, so the Rays have rookie Daniel …

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.
  3. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  4. Bob Buckhorn apologizes amid online uproar over his joke about pointing machine gun at journalists

    Blogs

    The office of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn issued a statement Monday afternoon saying Buckhorn is apologizing to combat journalists for a joke he made last week about pointing …

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn fires a .50 caliber machine gun from a rigid hull inflatable boat during a Special Operations Capabilities Demonstration at the Tampa Convention Center last year.
  5. Eckerd grad presses for answers after closure of Program for Experienced Learners

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — It’s not unusual for colleges to end programs or discontinue majors that suffer from low enrollment.

    Eckerd College