The attacks came as French President Francois Hollande said on French television Saturday that French forces had attained their objectives in Mali, a country which until January had lost its northern half to an al Qaeda cell and their allies. When the extremists began advancing southward in early 2013, Mr. Hollande unilaterally authorized a military intervention that quickly pushed the Islamic extremists from the main cities in Mali’s north. Outside the heavily fortified cities such as Timbuktu, however, the jihadists are still present, leading an insurgency marked by suicide bombings, land mines and attacks on the cities.
For 10 months until this January, Timbuktu as well as much of the rest of northern Mali was ruled by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as two other jihadist groups allied with the terror network.
• Rukmini Callimachi reported from Dakar, Senegal.