The onslaught by armed militants from the fundamentalist Ansar Dine was launched amid the unrest in Mali's vast desert north that erupted in the chaotic aftermath of a March 22 coup in Bamako.
"They have raped Timbuktu today. It is a crime," said a source close to a local imam in Timbuktu, known as the "City of 333 Saints". Witnesses told AFP the group, holding parts of northern Mali, have so far destroyed three ancient shrines.
"The tombs of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya in Timbuktu were destroyed Saturday by the Qaeda-led group ... who are heading towards other tombs," said one witness, whose report was confirmed by the source close to the imam. In addition to three historic mosques, Timbuktu is home to 16 cemeteries and mausoleums, according to the UNESCO website…
"Ansar Dine will today destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception," spokesman Sanda Ould Boumama told AFP through an interpreter from the city.
The Ansar Dine spokesman suggested Saturday's action was in retaliation for the UNESCO decision on Thursday to put the World Heritage site, a cradle of Islamic learning founded in the fifth century, on its endangered list. "God is unique. All of this is haram (or forbidden in Islam). We are all Muslims. UNESCO is what?" he said, declaring that Ansar Dine — which wants to impose sharia law in the region — was acting "in the name of God."'
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Fwd: Al-Qaeda destroying Muslim shrines?
'Al-Qaeda linked group in northern Mali went on the rampage in Timbuktu Saturday, destroying ancient tombs of Muslim saints just after UNESCO listed the fabled city as an endangered world heritage site.