French president awaited in Mali's Timbuktu

Associated Press
A French soldiers  stands guard outside Djigarey Ber mosque during friday prayers in Timbuktu, Mali, Friday Feb. 1, 2013. French President Francois Hollande is scheduled to visit the fabled city Saturday. (AP Photo/Harouna Traore)

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TIMBUKTU, Mali (AP) — French armored personnel carriers are lining the streets of Timbuktu ahead of the arrival of French President Francois Hollande.

France's leader is making a triumphant stop in Timbuktu, which French forces liberated six days ago from the al-Qaida-linked extremists who seized northern Mali last year.

French soldiers are deployed at the intersections and on the perimeters of this fabled city where he is to visit later Saturday.

Around 800 French forces took part in the effort to free Timbuktu, including hundreds of paratroopers who parachuted onto nearby dunes.

France launched the military offense three weeks ago in its former colony. Despite the initial successes, some fear what will happen once they hand over to Mali and other African forces.

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