Sevare (Mali): In a major blow to the Islamist opposition, French troops in Mali have successfully gained control of the historic city of Timbuktu.
This was an overnight operation and it happened with collaboration of the local Mali troops on Monday hours after the key airport was taken by the French army.
It is reported that when the troops entered the central library, they found a lot of historic manuscripts destroyed by the militants.
Col. Thierry Burkhard said Monday that the town`s airport was taken without any resistance or difficulty.
The Timbuktu operation comes a day after the French announced they had seized the airport and a key bridge in a city east of Timbuktu, Gao, one of the other northern provincial capitals that had been under the grip of radical Islamists.
The French and Malian forces so far have met little resistance from the Islamists, who seized northern Mali in the wake of a military coup in the distant capital of Bamako, in southern Mali.
Timbuktu, which has entranced travelers for centuries with its inaccessible mystique, is some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) northeast of Bamako. During their rule, the militants have systematically destroyed UNESCO World Heritage sites in the ancient town.
(With Agency Inputs)