France to evacuate its citizens from Mali's Segou

RUKMINI CALLIMACHI Associated Press Published:

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- The French embassy in Bamako sent an email ordering the immediate evacuation of all French nationals living in the Malian town of Segou.

The evacuation order was confirmed by a French citizen in Segou, who insisted upon anonymity because of the security situation. The French citizen owner said the order came after the fall on Monday of the garrison town of Diabaly to the al-Qaida-linked rebels occupying northern Mali. Diabaly was seized by the extremists despite heavy bombardment by French special forces, bringing the militants to within 80 kilometers (49 miles) of the southern Mali town of Segou and within 400 kilometers (248 miles) of the capital, Bamako.

French President Francois Hollande authorized the airstrikes last week after the Islamists began their push south.