Malian troops swept Timbuktu for remaining Islamist fighters after a weekend battle that left seven dead and forced France to dispatch reinforcements and fighter jets to help Mali's army.
Timbuktu has been part of three empires, survived invasions and had countless rulers, and it met its 10-month occupation by Islamist extremists with the stoicism of a city that has seen centuries of history.
"They are not Muslims, they are bandits!" raged Mohamed Elher Ag Abba, whose house flanks a famed archive in Timbuktu where retreating Islamists burnt priceless ancient books and manuscripts before fleeing.
French and Malian forces were patrolling Mali's fabled desert city of Timbuktu on Tuesday, after a hero's welcome following their lightning advance north.