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Mali Islamists launch counter attack, seize town

  • Islamist rebels in Mali launched a counter-offensive on Monday and seized control of Diabaly town, located 250 miles from the capital Bamako, after three days of military intervention by France.

    French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed that Diabaly, which was previously under control of the Mali authorities, had been taken.

    "They came from the Mauritanian frontier, where they had been bombarded by the French army," he said.

    The counter attack follows French intervention on Friday.

    Rebels have since warned that France will pay for their actions.

    In response, France has also tightened security at public buildings and on public transport.

    According to President Francois Hollande, France's goal is to support a mission by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) to retake the north, as ordered by a United Nations Security Council resolution in December.

    The intervention has won praise from western leaders but increases the danger for eight French hostages held by al-Qaeda allies in the Sahara as well as for the 30,000 French expatriates living in neighboring nations.

    At least 11 Malian soldiers and a French helicopter pilot have been killed since Friday. More than 100 militants are reported to have died.

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