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French and Malian troops take control of Diabaly

Issouf Sanogo / AFP - Getty Images

People gather near an armored vehicle as French soldiers arrive in the city of Diabaly on Jan. 21. Today, French and Malian troops recaptured the Malian towns of Diabaly and Douentza from Islamist fighters, France's defense minister said. Diabaly has been the center of air strikes and fighting since being seized by Islamists a week ago.

Joe Penney / Reuters

French soldiers stand guard in front of charred pickup trucks in Diabaly, Mali, on Jan. 21.

Jerome Delay / AP

A Malian soldier checks identity papers in the center of Diabaly, Mali, approximately 320 miles north of the capital Bamako on Jan. 21. French and Malian troops were in the city whose capture by radical Islamists prompted the French military intervention.

Issouf Sanogo / AFP - Getty Images

A Malian soldier holds a French and Malian flag after arriving in the city of Diabaly on Jan. 21.

By Bate Felix, Reuters

French and Malian armored columns rolled into the towns of Diabaly and Douentza in central Mali on Monday after the al Qaida-linked rebels who had seized them fled into the bush to avoid air strikes. 

France said the advance was a significant step in its campaign to break Islamist fighters' grip over Mali's vast desert north, a presence raising fears of the region becoming a an African launchpad for international militant attacks.

The stakes in Mali rose dramatically last week when Islamist gunmen cited France's intervention as the reason for attacking a gas plant in neighboring Algeria, seizing hundreds of hostages and sowing fears the conflict would spill across borders. Continue reading the full story.

Issouf Sanogo / AFP - Getty Images

A girl looks at Islamists pickup trucks destroyed during aerial strikes in Diabaly, Mali, on Jan. 21. Today, French and Malian troops recaptured the Malian towns of Diabaly and Douentza from Islamist fighters, France's defense minister said.

Joe Penney / Reuters

Malian soldiers carry a box of ammunition after searching through debris at a Malian military camp in Diabaly, Mali, on Jan. 21. French air strikes hit the camp a week ago after it was taken over by al Qaeda-linked rebels.

Joe Penney / Reuters

Malian soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint in Diabaly, Mali, on Jan. 21. Diabaly was retaken by French and Malian forces after al Qaeda-linked rebels took over the town a week ago.

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