As part of France's aggressive drive to overthrow Al Qaeda linked troops in the north of Mali .It has been reported that French led Malian troops have surrounded the historic city of Timbuktu. French Special Forces reported that 12 militants were killed in the fighting although there were no French losses or injuries.

Meanwhile the liberation of Gao a renowned rebel stronghold saw thousands of residents cheer the liberating troops with shouts of "Mali, Mali, France, France". Jubilant at the overthrow of a regime that had had banned music and smoking, cut off the hands of thieves and ordered women to wear veils.

But memories live long in this land and retribution is already being meted out to alleged Islamist sympathiser's. As evidence of abuse and killings by government troops is reported by the Human Rights Watch organisation.

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Written and Presented by Ann Salter