Timbuktu shrines damaged by Mali Ansar Dine Islamists
Published: 30th Jun 2012 15:17:30
Islamist fighters in Mali have damaged the shrines of Muslim saints in the city of Timbuktu, witnesses say.
The fighters, from the Ansar Dine group, which controls much of northern Mali, attacked the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud, one of 16 shrines in the city.
Last week, the UN cultural organisation Unesco put Timbuktu on its list of endangered world heritage sites, fearing damage following the coup which toppled the Malian government in March.
Islamists regard shrines as idolatrous.
However, some Muslims, especially Sufis, regard them as an accepted part of Muslim worship.
Witnesses said Islamist fighters began attacking the shrines on Saturday morning, using shovels and pickaxes.
"This is tragic news for us all," Unesco chairperson Alissandra Cummins said in a statement to the AFP news agency. "I appeal to all those engaged in the conflict in Timbuktu to exercise their responsibility."
Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Boumama told the AFP news agency the shrines would be destroyed, "all of them, without exception".
He went on: "God is unique. All of this is haram (forbidden in Islam). We are all Muslims. Unesco is what?"
"They have already completely destroyed the mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud (Ben Amar) and two others," Malian journalist Yeya Tandina told the Reuters news agency.
In addition to the shrines, Timbuktu is home to some 700,000 ancient manuscripts held in about 60 private libraries.
On Thursday, Unesco said the city's capture by armed Islamists could endanger its "outstanding architectural wonders".
"It looks as if it is a direct reaction to the Unesco decision," Timbuktu official Sandy Haidara told Reuters.
Timbuktu, an ancient trading city on the edge of the Sahara Desert, is known for its distinctive architectural structures, constructed mainly from mud and wood.
The shrine of Sidi Mahmoud was also attacked in April and set on fire by armed men from Ansar Dine.
Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda, seized northern Mali in March, in tandem with ethnic Tuareg rebels.
However, the alliance between the two groups has frayed and the Islamists now say they control the territory after driving out their former allies.
Islamist forces recently seized the town of Gao from the Tuaregs. The 17th Century tomb of Emperor Mohammed Askia, which is in Gao, has also been placed on the Unesco danger list.
At 20:00:46 in EnglandA man has been jailed for life for the murder of a friend he stabbed several times in the back.
At 19:50:06 in HeadlinesA US high school student who sued her parents for financial support has returned home, a lawyer says.
At 19:49:21 in BusinessUS regulators have launched an investigation into the operations of nutrition and weight-loss firm Herbalife.
At 19:29:20 in EnglandA young man who demanded MP Nigel Evans resign after an alleged sexual assault was told "it can't be done" before the general election, a court heard.
At 19:25:29 in ScotlandAndy Murray has spoken of his love for Scotland ahead of the opening of his Dunblane hotel.
At 19:19:28 in SportHolders England relinquished the Cyprus Cup to bogey team France as a 40-year hoodoo was continued with a 2-0 defeat in the final.
At 19:14:07 in SportStephen Ferris could make his long-awaited return to action in Ulster's Pro12 encounter with the Scarlets at Ravenhill on Friday.
At 19:11:01 in EnglandA lock on the River Thames is set to close for a second time after repair work was delayed by recent flooding.
At 19:08:53 in SportAkdam was fatally injured and jockey Bryan Cooper sustained a broken leg during the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
At 18:58:48 in HeadlinesNigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a forensic audit of the state oil firm following claims that $20bn (£12bn) had gone missing.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Timbuktu shrines damaged by Mali Ansar Dine Islamists [Online] (Updated 30th Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1437885/Timbuktu-shrines-damaged-by-Mali-Ansar-Dine-Islamists [Accessed 12th Mar 2014]
News In Other Categories
US regulators have launched an investigation into the operations of nutrition and weight-loss firm Herbalife.
A US high school student who sued her parents for financial support has returned home, a lawyer says.
Andy Murray has spoken of his love for Scotland ahead of the opening of his Dunblane hotel.
The survivor of a serious motorbike accident has had pioneering surgery to reconstruct his face using a series of 3D printed parts.
Holders England relinquished the Cyprus Cup to bogey team France as a 40-year hoodoo was continued with a 2-0 defeat in the final.
Long-running US sitcom The Big Bang Theory has been extended for a further three series, broadcaster CBS has said.