Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

'We sell dreams, passion,' says French Open's Guy Forget

Read more

FRENCH CONNECTIONS

The French are so rude! Or is it just a misunderstanding?

Read more

REVISITED

After key battle, Syrian town of Kobane looks to the future

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'War is not an option,' says former FARC guerrilla leader

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Madagascar political crisis: top court orders formation of unity government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Ireland's abortion referendum

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Weinstein in court; Ireland abortion vote; Italy's populist takeover

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Sugar and spice: The flavours of the French Caribbean

Read more

ENCORE!

The writing's on the wall: Revolutionary posters from May 68

Read more

Africa

Ansar Dine Islamists destroy mausoleums in Timbuktu

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-01

Ansar Dine Islamists are destroying mausoleums in Timbuktu deemed un-Islamic, witnesses said Saturday. The militants, who have established strict Islamic law in areas seized after a March coup, ousted rival Tuareg rebels from the city on Thursday.

REUTERS - Armed fighters of Mail's al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine Islamist group on Saturday destroyed mausoleums in the ancient trading city of Timbuktu, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, witnesses said.

The attack came just four days after UNESCO agreed to a request by the West African state to place Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger following the seizure of its northern two-thirds in April by separatist and Islamist rebels.

"They have already completely destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud (Ben Amar) and two others. They said they would continue all day and destroy all 16," local Malian journalist Yeya Tandina said by telephone of the 16 most prized resting grounds of local saints in the town.

"They are armed and have surrounded the sites with pick-up trucks. The population is just looking on helplessly," he said, adding that the Islamists were currently taking pick-axes to the mausoleum of Sidi El Mokhtar, another cherished local saint.

"It looks as if it is a direct reaction to the UNESCO decision," Timbuktu deputy Sandy Haidara said by telephone, confirming the attacks.

Since government forces were routed in April, Ansar Dine and other Islamist groups with links to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have gained the upper hand over less well-armed Tuaregs whose goal is a secular, independent northern state.

Ansar Dine is pushing for strict sharia, Islamic law, across the whole of the country and deems un-Islamic the shrines of Timbuktu, an expression of the local Sufi brand of the religion.
 

Date created : 2012-06-30

  • MALI

    Ansar Dine Islamists oust Tuareg rebels from Timbuktu

    Read more

  • MALI

    Islamist group Ansar Dine agree to talks on Mali crisis

    Read more

  • MALI

    Mali rebel groups clash over breakaway state

    Read more

COMMENT(S)