France's Hollande visits library housing torched manuscripts in Timbuktu

  • About
  • Export
  • Add to
Inspecting the damage in Timbuktu - French President Francois Hollande visits a library holding priceless manuscripts, many torched by Islamist rebels as they fled the ancient town.

Hollande is in Mali for a one-day visit with key ministers to support French troops helping to fight Islamist rebels in the country.

Rebels destroyed up to 2,000 of some 300,000 priceless manuscripts held in the ancient city claiming they were against Islamic law.

Amid heavy security, Hollande was also given a tour of the city's ancient Grand Mosque, built of mud bricks and wooden beams.

The French military operation, which has 3,500 soldiers supporting Mali forces, has so far forced rebels to retreat from many key northern towns.

Hollande said France was supporting the Malian army and would continue to do so within the framework of the United Nations until Mali regained complete territorial integrity.

Earlier, Hollande was gifted a camel on his arrival at Timbuktu airport as a symbolic gesture of gratitude.

He joked he would use it as much as possible for his own transportation.

The French president, who was expected to outline the next steps in France's military operation, will also visit the capital Bamako on his whistestop tour.