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Residents say Islamists leave Malian town of Diabaly after days of French airstrikes

  • 7ae57d904fbd1502270f6a70670078c3.jpg

    Malian soldiers jubilate as they return to Niono, from Diabaly, some 400 kms (300 miles) North of the capital Bamako, Saturday Jan. 19, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday, trying to stop radical Islamists from striking against communities closer to the capital and cutting off their supply line, a French official said. The move around Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said that the city whose capture prompted the French military intervention in the first place was no longer in the hands of the extremists. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

  • b99d1a974fbc1502270f6a706700fa98.jpg

    Malian soldiers jubilate as they return to Niono, from Diabaly, some 400 kms (300 miles) North of the capital Bamako, Saturday Jan. 19, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday, trying to stop radical Islamists from striking against communities closer to the capital and cutting off their supply line, a French official said. The move around Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said that the city whose capture prompted the French military intervention in the first place was no longer in the hands of the extremists. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

  • 2ec550554fbd1502270f6a70670036da.jpg

    Malian soldiers jubilate as they return to Niono, from Diabaly, some 400 kms (300 miles) North of the capital Bamako, Saturday Jan. 19, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday, trying to stop radical Islamists from striking against communities closer to the capital and cutting off their supply line, a French official said. The move around Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said that the city whose capture prompted the French military intervention in the first place was no longer in the hands of the extremists. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

  • 9ea41af24f181202270f6a706700aa9c.jpg

    A Malian well-wisher displays his French flag as French soldiers enter Niono, Mali, some 400 kms (300 miles) north of the capital Bamako Saturday Jan. 19, 2013. French troops encircled a key Malian town on Friday, trying to stop radical Islamists from striking against communities closer to the capital and cutting off their supply line, a French official said. The move around Diabaly came as French and Malian authorities said that the city whose capture prompted the French military intervention in the first place was no longer in the hands of the extremists.(AP Photo/Jerome Delay) (The Associated Press)

  • 8c75ebdc4efe1202270f6a7067009532.jpg

    This photo provided Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, by the ECPAD shows a soldier guarding a British Royal Airforce C17 at Bamako airport, Friday, Jan. 18, 2013. West African leaders headed to a special Mali summit in Ivory Coast on Saturday to discuss how to step up their role as the French-led military intervention to oust Islamic extremists from power entered its second week. (AP Photo/Jeremy Lempin, ECPAD) (The Associated Press)

Residents say that radical Islamists have now fled a key Malian town that had been under their control for nearly a week.

The Islamists who rule northern Mali had descended upon the city of Diabaly on Monday but fled the city Saturday after several days of airstrikes by the French military.

Diabaly residents who had fled to the neighboring town of Niono said the Islamists had left the community.

Malian military spokesman Capt. Modibo Traore said soldiers were attempting to secure the area and that an operation in the area was ongoing.

The departure of the Islamists from Diabaly marks a success for the French-led military intervention to stop the militants from advancing further south.