On a visit Saturday to war-torn Mali, French President Francois Hollande was greeted by a rapturous crowd in Timbukutu — the legendary city recently recaptured from rebels by French and Malian forces. Hollande also met with French troops, telling them that the conflict in the North African nation is "not over."
The BBC reported:
Crowds waved French flags and shouted "Vive la France! Vive Francois Hollande!" as the French leader passed them.
"If I could have one wish, it would be that the French army stays in the Sahara, that they create a base here," Moustapha Ben Essayati, a resident, told the Associated Press news agency.
Many women wore vibrantly coloured clothes and jewellery, which correspondents say was something they could not do during the past year of Islamist rule.
"The women of Timbuktu will thank Francois Hollande forever," 53-year-old Fanta Diarra Toure, one of thousands of people who gathered in the city's main square, told the AFP news agency.
"We must tell him that he has cut down the tree but still has to tear up its roots," she added, referring to the Islamist militants.