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

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.