Mali: Footage Shows Militants' Brutal Tactics

Footage showing the scale of the jihadist reign of terror in Timbuktu has been obtained by Sky News as residents of the ancient city come to terms with their ordeal.

The images show heavily armed al Qaeda-linked radicals travelling round the city in trucks and carrying out public floggings of those deemed to have broken strict Islamic laws.

The militants' disdain for Mali's history and culture is also displayed as they are seen demolishing tombs that have been part of Timbuktu's landscape for 800 years.

Sky News Special Correspondent Alex Crawford, who is in the city, said: "Some of the pictures show just how heavily-armed the al Qaeda militants were as they took over Timbuktu's streets.

"The piles of weapons stored in houses across the town indicate the militants had plenty of access to them."

Grainy mobile phone footage showing the harsh street justice meted out to those who got on the wrong side of the law during the extremists' 10 months in charge is also emerging.

Noam Sissi was twice subjected to a public lashing for stealing and warned that his right hand would be cut off if he was caught again.

He fled to the relative safety of southern Mali soon after his brutal punishment was captured on film.

Some residents of the city were prepared to take huge risks to preserve what they could of their heritage.

Abdullah Sissi smuggled books out of a library, saving them from the same fate as manuscripts housed at the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Islamic Studies and Research, which was burned by the Islamists as they fled.

He spelled out the repercussions for anyone caught trying to save books or valuable papers.

"They imprisoned people for this and amputated limbs. This was their punishment," he told Sky News.

French troops continue to airlift vehicles and supplies into Timbuktu as the hunt begins for any militants still hiding there and an international operation gets underway to embolden the Malian army against their possible return.

David Cameron travels to Algeria later as he further outlines how Britain will play its part in tackling the growing terrorist threat in northern Africa.

The visit comes after Britain announced that up to 330 British troops would help out in the battle against rebels in neighbouring Mali.

The Prime Minister is to hold talks with counterpart Abdelmalek Sellal and pay his respects to victims of the hostage crisis that left six Britons dead.

Some 37 foreigners, at least 10 Algerians and dozens of terrorists died in the attack on the In Amenas gas plant, which is jointly operated by BP, earlier this month.

The Algerian government took the controversial decision to storm the site in the Sahara desert, with Mr Cameron and other world leaders protesting about not being notified in advance.

During talks with Mr Sellal and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algiers, the premier is expected to stress the need for a "tough, patient and intelligent response" to extremism in the region.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was forced on Tuesday to deny "mission creep" in the intervention to bolster the government in Mali as he boosted the UK's role.

Up to 240 troops could be deployed to train the Malian military and prepare soldiers from other African countries, while another 90 personnel could provide air support.

A roll-on-roll-off ferry has also been offered to transport French equipment to Africa.

In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Cameron said: "I believe we are in the midst of a long struggle against murderous terrorists and a poisonous ideology that supports them.

"We need to close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive and, yes, we need to deal with the grievances that they use to garner support."

Mr Cameron will also be attending an international development conference in the Liberian capital Monrovia.