Islamists have snatched the northern parts of Mali, setting up a harsh brand of Sharia and trashing Christian and too-ancestor-friendly Muslim sites in Timbuktu (yes, there is a real town by that name); the latter would be loosely analogous of a militant Lutheran going after Catholic cathedrals as an exercise in Whore of Babylon-slapping.
The jihadis are on the move towards the southern, more populated part of the country, and the French are coming to the aid of the old colony, supplying air support from basis in Chad (how's it hanging, folks?) and France proper. I'm somewhat surprised that it's taken this long to get folks off the time, but benign neglect is the default value in most diplomatic circles.
Things could get messy; what's French for "Black Hawk Down?"
French authorities acknowledged Sunday that the militants have turned out to be better-armed and equipped than France had initially thought.
That was the mistake in Somalia in the 90s; people wrote off the warlords as gang leaders with more assult weapons, but some of them proved more capable that the US counted on. The same might well be true in Mali, especially as jihadists from around the world could flood the zone and try to make Mali a new hangout like some parts of Somalia and Yemen are now.