(Photo: Reuters/Joe Penney)
Timbuktu has been transformed into a ghost town after being deserted by radical Islamists and locals who once occupied the area.
Timbuktu, in northern Mali, was left without electricity and drinking water for numerous days recently, according to local reports, and it appears that has sparked a massive exodus from the town.
One local official, Moctar Ould Kery, has reported to media: "There is no water. The people have left and the Islamists too. It's a ghost town."
A French-guided military campaign was recently launched in the area to oust the militant Islamic extremists controlling the area, and it appears as though that offensive has led to the interruption of electricity and water supplies to Timbuktu.
It is believed that the Islamic extremists have fled the area and are regrouping in the region of Kidal, according to USA Today.
Some reports have suggested that the Islamists were controlling the supply of water and electricity to the town, and when they fled due to the military offensive against them, there was no one to take control of those supply routes. It is thought that French air raids destroyed the Islamists fuel stocks, sparking them to flee.
A mansion that used to belong to former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had been taken over by Islamic extremists, who were using it as a kind of base. However, French offensives are said to have destroyed that mansion at the weekend.
Timbuktu lies about 560 miles (900 kilometers) from the capital of Mali, Bamako, and is known to have been a center for Islamic learning for centuries.
Here is a video report about the French offensive in Mali against the Islamists: