French troops leave Mali’s Timbuktu

French military forces have left Timbuktu, nine years after they helped Malian troops recapture the city from Islamist insurgents.

The withdrawal had high symbolic value as it was here that former French President François Hollande formalised the start of French military intervention in 2013.

On Tuesday, a French general handed over a symbolic wooden key to a Malian officer before his troops pulled out of their base.

France is gradually reducing its counter-insurgency operation in northern Mali, despite a continuing threat from jihadists.

Relations with Mali’s government have soured since a military coup last year.

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