One of many ancient tombs in Timbuktu (Mali, West Africa) under threat. Image credit AFP

Baba Ahmed writing in today’s Independent reports that –

Despite international condemnation, the radical Islamic faction controlling the northern Malian outpost of Timbuktu continued destroying the city’s ancient tombs today, laying waste to the city’s five-hundred-year-old heritage. The destruction began on Saturday, after the al-Qa’ida-linked faction Ansar Dine secured its hold on the three main towns in northern Mali, including Timbuktu. They descended on the tombs of the city’s Sufi saints with axes and shovels, as well as automatic weapons, saying that they were idolatrous. Their destruction spree continued today. “This morning, the Islamists continued breaking the mausoleums. This is our patrimony, recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco,” said Aboubacrine Cisse, a resident of the town who slipped outside on Monday to witness the destruction. “They are continuing to destroy all the tombs of all the saints of Timbuktu, and our city counts 333 saints,” he said.

The UN cultural agency has called for an immediate halt to the destruction of the sacred tombs. Irina Bokova, who heads the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, cited in a statement Saturday reports that the centuries-old mausoleums of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi, Moctar and Alpha Moya had been destroyed. Meeting in St. Petersburg in Russia, Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, last week placed the mausoleums on its list of sites in danger at the request of Mali’s government.

Full article here. 

Video report AlJazeera English