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Kadhafi mansion destroyed in French air raids on Timbuktu

Kadhafi mansion destroyed in French air raids on Timbuktu

BAMAKO: French air raids on the fabled Malian city of Timbuktu destroyed a mansion belonging to Libya's former strongman Moamer Kadhafi which was being used by Islamist radicals as their headquarters, officials said.

French planes bombed a major base of the Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) near Timbuktu, a French defence ministry official confirmed on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. The last raids took place on Sunday night.

"In the course of the last French bombings, several jihadists died and the residence of Kadhafi, which had become the headquarters of the Islamists, was destroyed," a Malian security source said, adding there were no civilian deaths.

A local resident said: "Three or four other areas housing Islamists were also bombed," adding that three houses "used by drug-traffickers were targeted."

Mohamed Ould Lemine, a local official, said the Kadhafi residence "caught fire" and the Islamists' "fuel supplies and weapons were destroyed."

A fabled caravan town on the edge of the Sahara desert, Timbuktu -- which lies 900 kilometres from the Mali capital Bamako -- was for centuries a key centre of Islamic learning and has become a byword for exotic remoteness in the Western imagination.

Today it is a battlefield, overrun by Islamist militants who have been

razing its world-heritage religious sites in a destructive rampage that the United Nations cultural agency deplored as "tragic".

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