MIDNIGHT PARACHUTE JUMP:
The recapture of Timbuktu was done by moonlight. More than 250 French troops parachuted down to the northern entrance of the fabled desert city, while an armoured column sealed the southern exit. French contingent commander:
“Not a shot was fired,” French Colonel Paul Gèze : “We have secured the town but we fear that some elements of the Islamist factions could still be here hiding amid the population.” The potholed Tarmac has been patched up with sand but transport flights carrying emergency food were still landing 80 kilometres away across the sand and marshland in Gundam.
The eventually peaceful liberation of Timbuktu was preceded by 12 days – and six nights – of operations which the commanding officer from the 5th Combat Regiment of South-west France said had been as “hard as Libya”, given the technical demands."