Arms and explosives found in retaken Malian towns

French-backed Malian troops uncovered arms and explosives left by Islamist fighters as they searched houses in Gao and Timbuktu.

Soldiers retook the two towns in northern Mali over the weekend after an 18-hour French offensive pushed the al Qaeda-allied militant back into their hideouts in the mountains and deserts.

In Gao, five suspected rebels and sympathisers were arrested, and weapons and counterfeit money were uncovered. Fleeing fighters torched a Timbuktu library holding priceless ancient manuscripts damaging many.