France ordered the evacuation of the roughly 60 French citizens living in the Segou region, then pounded the area around Diabaly with bombs all night Monday and again Tuesday, said Ibrahim Toure, a resident cowering inside a mud-walled home.
‘‘They bombed the town all night long,’’ said Toure. ‘‘I am hiding inside a house.’’
The Islamists taunted the French, saying they had vastly exaggerated their gains.
‘‘I would advise France not to sing their victory song too quickly. They managed to leave Afghanistan. They will never leave Mali,’’ said Oumar Ould Hamaha, a commander of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, an extremist groups whose fighters are believed to be in Diabaly.
‘‘The French resemble a fly that was attracted to a pot of honey. Now their feet are sticky. They can’t fly away anymore. ... It’s to our advantage that they send in French troops on foot. We are waiting for them. And what they should know is that every French soldier that comes into our territory should make sure to prepare his will beforehand, because he will not leave alive.’’
Associated Press writers Cassandra Vinograd in London and Lori Hinnant, Elaine Ganley and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.