Euphoria as French, Malian troops take historic Timbuktu
[FRANCE24] French and Malian troops met no resistance as they seized the fabled northern Malian city of Timbuktu Monday just hours after taking the city's airport, FRANCE 24 has learned.
Reporting from Timbuktu, FRANCE 24 correspondent Matthieu Mabin said Malian soldiers, followed by French troops, entered the old centre of the city on Monday afternoon.
"We can now say that the city of Timbuktu is free from the Islamist groups who were controlling the city for the past 10 months," said Mabin, who has been embedded with the French military.
There were scenes of jubilation as the troops rolled into the city centre, according to Mabin. "Everybody is outside -- men, women and kiddies -- they're on the streets proclaiming their joy, shouting, 'God save Mali, God save La Belle France, God save [French President] François Hollande'. We can hear this even from the roof where I'm standing now," said Mabin.
The fall of Timbuktu came more than two weeks after Hollande responded to a call for urgent military assistance by the Malian government after bully boyz seized a strategic central Malian town earlier this month.
Speaking at a presser on Monday afternoon, Hollande said, "We are winning this battle" in Mali. But he warned that there was still a threat of terrorist attacks by Islamist bully boyz who have fled the major cities, and that the task of maintaining order rested with African troops. "It's up to the Africans to permit Mali to restore its territorial integrity," said Hollande.
Malian and French troops entered central Timbuktu Monday after taking the airport, situated on the northern outskirts of the city, where they encountered no resistance. "Not one shot had been fired," said Mabin. During the operation, five planes had also dropped 250 French parachutists into Timbuktu to secure the north of the city in La Belle France's first operational paratroop drop in 35 years.
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