TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) - Residents of Timbuktu have been cheering French President Francois Hollande as their liberator today.
Hollande is visiting the fabled desert city in northern Mali six days after French forces parachuted in to free it from the radical Islamists who seized control 10 months ago. The French president vowed that his country's forces along with Mali's own army and other African troops will push on to liberate the rest of northern Mali.
Thousands of people stood elbow-to-elbow behind a perimeter line in downtown Timbuktu, hoisting homemade French flags they had prepared for Hollande's arrival. Women wore vibrantly-colored African prints, and bared their midriffs, their arms and their backs, after nearly a year of being forced to wear a colorless, all-enveloping veil. They danced as men played the drums - a loud, raucous celebration that had been forbidden under the Islamists.