Tombs at Timbuktu mosque destroyed

2012-07-10 16:30
A still from a video shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu. (AFP, File)

A still from a video shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu. (AFP, File)

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Dakar - The Islamists controlling northern Mali on Tuesday destroyed two tombs at the ancient Djingareyber mud mosque in Timbuktu, an endangered world heritage site, witnesses told AFP.

"Currently the Islamists are busy destroying two tombs of Timbuktu's great Djingareyber mosque. They are shooting in the air to chase away the crowd, to scare them," one witness said.

"The two mausolea are adjacent to the western wall of the great mosque and the Islamists have hoes, chisels, they are hitting the mausolea which are made out of packed earth," said a source close to the mosque's imam.

"They say they will destroy everything."

Another witness reported the Islamists had cried "Allahu Akbar" [God is great] as they hammered away at the mosque which is one of the most important in Timbuktu.

He added that the Islamists had blocked off two main roads leading to the mosque, which was one of the fabled city's main tourist attractions before the region became a no-go area for westerners.

The same witness reported that the Islamists had asked a television crew from Qatar-based Al-Jazeera to film their actions.

The fighters from the Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) began their destruction of the city's cultural treasures on July 1, shortly after Unesco placed them on a list of endangered world heritage sites.

Declaring the ancient muslim shrines "haram", or forbidden in Islam, Ansar Dine set about destroying seven of Timbuktu's 16 mausolea of ancient muslim saints.

Read more on:    ansar adine  |  unesco  |  mali  |  west africa
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