As French-led Malian troops captured the airport of the world heritage town of Timbuktu Monday, fleeing Islamists set fire to the Baba Ahmed Institution and its priceless ancient manuscripts. At Gao, jubilant inhabitants danced and sang in the streets to celebrate the liberation of their town from Islamist rule Sunday. The third key northern town of Kidal, seat of the Tuareg, remains to be captured before northern Mali is freed.
The Islamists and Mali rebels are pulling back into the Sahara desert and feared regrouping for guerilla warfare as  African troops are flown in to secure areas liberated by the French intervention.