Al Qaeda-led insurgents Monday struck the town of Diabaly which houses a Malian army base in government-controlled central Mali in retaliation for French airstrikes Sunday which targeted rebel positions near the town. The rebels fought with reinforcements from the Mauritania. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French bombardments had blocked the Islamist advance fromn the north to the east of Mali, but the situation in the west “remains difficult.”