French and Malian troops have seized the key Malian towns of Diabaly and Douentza from militant Islamists, the French defence minister has said.

French warplanes have bombed suspected Islamist positions around both towns since France launched a military operation in Mali on 11 January.

A column of French and Malian troops entered Diabaly, said an AFP news agency reporter with the soldiers.

France has sent some 2,000 troops to help Malian forces fight the militants.