Town 90 miles from Mali capital on alert
French troops pressed northward in Mali toward territory occupied by radical Islamists on Wednesday, military officials said, announcing the start of a land assault that will put soldiers in direct combat "within hours."
BAMAKO, Mali -- A town 90 miles from Mali's capital was put on alert Wednesday, and roughly 100 Malian soldiers sped there after a reported sighting of jihadists in the vicinity.
Banamba is connected by a secondary road to the garrison town of Diabaly, which was taken by Islamic extremists and has been the scene of intense fighting with French special forces.
A county official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly said they had received reports that a rebel convoy had left Diabaly on the road connecting it to Banamba.
"We don't have a garrison here, we have no defenses. So the military has come to secure the town," he said. "But from Monday to today, no jihadists have entered our town."
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