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Malian military says its forces are in control of Timbuktu after French-led operation

  • 2b7bbff481d1f803270f6a706700f8ae.jpg

    In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, photo provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, a crowd cheers the arrival of French soldiers in Timbuktu, in northern Mali. Backed by French helicopters and paratroopers, Malian soldiers entered the fabled city of Timbuktu on Monday after al-Qaida-linked militants who ruled the outpost by fear for nearly 10 months fled into the desert, setting fire to a library that held thousands of manuscripts dating to the Middle Ages. (AP Photo/French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD), Arnaud Roine) (The Associated Press)

  • e3136e0781d1f803270f6a7067005d9e.jpg

    In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, photo provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, a crowd cheers the arrival of French soldiers in Timbuktu, in northern Mali. Backed by French helicopters and paratroopers, Malian soldiers entered the fabled city of Timbuktu on Monday after al-Qaida-linked militants who ruled the outpost by fear for nearly 10 months fled into the desert, setting fire to a library that held thousands of manuscripts dating to the Middle Ages. (AP Photo/French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD), Arnaud Roine) (The Associated Press)

  • e690d1bd81d4f803270f6a7067002ab0.jpg

    In this picture taken on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, a French soldier, second from right, shakes hands with a resident of Timbuktu, north Mali. Backed by French helicopters and paratroopers, Malian soldiers entered the fabled city of Timbuktu on Monday after al-Qaida-linked militants who ruled the outpost by fear for nearly 10 months fled into the desert, setting fire to a library that held thousands of manuscripts dating to the Middle Ages.(AP Photo/French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD), Arnaud Roine) (The Associated Press)

  • 691501cd81d7f803270f6a706700fbf1.jpg

    In this photo taken on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Tuesday Jan. 29, 2013, a French soldier directs helicopters near Timbuktu, north Mali. Backed by French helicopters and paratroopers, Malian soldiers entered the fabled city of Timbuktu on Monday after al-Qaida-linked militants who ruled the outpost by fear for nearly 10 months fled into the desert, setting fire to a library that held thousands of manuscripts dating to the Middle Ages.(AP Photo/French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD), Arnaud Roine) (The Associated Press)

  • e3e5671181d6f803270f6a706700e28b.jpg

    In this photo taken on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, provided by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) and released Tuesday Jan. 29, 2013, a French soldier guards the Timbuktu airport, in northern Mali. Backed by French helicopters and paratroopers, Malian soldiers entered the fabled city of Timbuktu on Monday after al-Qaida-linked militants who ruled the outpost by fear for nearly 10 months fled into the desert, setting fire to a library that held thousands of manuscripts dating to the Middle Ages.(AP Photo/Arnaud Roine; EMA-ECPAD) (The Associated Press)

A Malian military spokesman says that soldiers are now in control of Timbuktu a day after the French-led operation to retake the fabled city from grip of Islamist extremists linked to al-Qaida.

Modibo Traore told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Malian forces have maintained their hold on the town after entering it late Monday.

Timbuktu is one of three provincial capitals across northern Mali that had been ruled by the Islamist rebels since last April. The French and Malian forces retook Gao over the weekend, and have not yet advanced on Kidal.

The French military operation began more than two weeks ago and has so far met little resistance though experts warn it will be harder to hold on to the towns than it was to recapture them.

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