French military enters Malian town of Timbuktu

PARIS (AP) - The chief French military spokesman says French forces have entered the north Malian town of Timbuktu after seizing the airport and roads leading to the fabled city overnight.

French Colonel Thierry Burkhard said on Monday that there had been no combat with the Islamists who have ruled Timbuktu for nearly 10 months, but he said the French and Malian forces do not yet control the town.

Col Burkhard said French paratroopers landed north of the city as ground forces headed up from the south.

“The helicopters have been decisive,” he said, describing how they aided the ground forces who came from the south as French paratroopers landed north of the city.

News of their arrival came just hours after Timbuktu's mayor confirmed that ancient manuscripts had been torched in Timbuktu by fleeing extremists.

Over the weekend, French and Malian forces entered another northern provincial capital, Gao.

While the Islamists have not yet put up much of a fight, it remains to be seen what kind of opposition the forces will face in the coming days.