Timbuktu’s slaves liberated as Islamists flee

“Under the Islamists, blacks were exploited even more by the pink-skinned people,” said Roukiatou Cisse, a social worker with Temedt, a human rights group, referring to the Tuaregs and Arab Moors. “They told them, ‘We are with the Islamists. We are in power. We are the masters and you are our slaves. We will do what we want.’ ”

“Now, the slaves have profited by the pink-skinned people leaving.”

The jubilation underscores how deeply divided Mali’s northern communities had become during the 10-month rule of Islamists, who included homegrown jihadists, including Tuaregs and Arab Moors, as well as foreigners with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the terror network’s West and North Africa branch.

Under the Islamists, many Tuaregs and Arab Moors took advantage of their shared ethnic backgrounds with the jihadists and asserted themselves over their black neighbors. The widened rift between the communities could take years, if not decades, to close, residents say.