France confirmed Friday that Malian troops had taken control of the key central town of Konna from armed Islamists who seized the country's vast desert north in April last year.
The town was taken last Friday by Islamist groups, generating fears the capital Bamako could be vulnerable and triggering the French intervention.
The Malian army, which first claimed -- inaccurately -- to have recaptured Konna last Saturday, had announced earlier Friday that it had retaken Konna and another town, Diabaly.
France's defence ministry indicated that it did not consider Diabaly to have been retaken, but it was unclear if the Islamists were still in the town, which they seized on Monday in a counter-offensive deep into government-controlled territory.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday that France's forces on the ground in Mali had reached 1,800, just under three-quarters of the total of 2,500 Paris intends to deploy.
© 2013 AFP
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