French and Malian troops have surrounded Timbuktu and are aiming to secure the city after seizing the airport. A senior military officer reported they met no resistance.
There are reports of rebels setting fire to homes and thousands of priceless manuscripts and also handing out beatings to residents as they fled the city.
The operation comes a day after celebrations in Gao as Islamist militants were driven out of the town.
The ancient city of Timbuktu has been one of the bastions of the al Qaeda-allied fighters who have controlled the north for 10 months.
Two displaced residents gave their reaction. “I’m really glad to hear about Timbuktu because we haven’t had news for four days, networks are cut. We really worry for parents who are there. I welcome this very good news,” said one.
Another added: “Frankly, if they secure the city today, I am ready to return immediately to Timbuktu. French troops must not leave us alone then because those Islamists who fled may come back and cause problems for us. French troops have to stay a bit to stabilise the place.”
The African Union is meeting to discuss sending more troops while the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius reacted with claims that, “little by little Mali is being liberated”.
Military experts though fear the rebels could carry on a hit-and-run style guerrilla campaign.
- 1Dozens are killed and wounded in multiple suicide bomb attacks on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport
- 2Italian actor Bud Spencer dies at 86
- 3Suspected ISIL bombers kill 36 and wound dozens at Istanbul airport
- 4Terror in Turkey: attack at Ataturk airport leaves 41 dead and scores injured
- 5Feisty Farage tells MEPs ‘You’re not laughing now’
Latest world news
Philippines: Rodrigo Duterte sworn in as president
“Three Amigos” summit presents a united front
Both Britain’s main political parties seem headed for leadership battles
The EU’s 27 leaders “unite” as they view the future minus the UK
euronews reporter trapped on the tarmac as airport attack raged
Wires > News
- 10:16 CET Turkish police raid suspected Islamic State cells in Istanbul…
- 10:06 CET Have met all criteria for visa-free travel to Europe – Turkey’s …
- 09:25 CET Beijing slams South China Sea case as court ruling nears
- 08:59 CET Japan says Chinese military activity in East China Sea escalating
- 08:58 CET At least 18 killed by a roadside bomb in Somalia
- 07:07 CET Mongolia’s opposition MPP sweeps back to power on country’s…
- 06:41 CET Philippines’ Duterte sworn as president, rails against crime
- 05:01 CET North Korea’s Dear Respected Comrade leader gets a new title