Thu, Jul 19, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Mali Islamists destroy more holy Timbuktu sites

Local residents restore ancient mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali in 2006.

Photo: AFP

Al Qaeda-linked Mali Islamists armed with guns and pick-axes continued to destroy ancient mausoleums in the famed city of Timbuktu on July 1, the second day of attacks on the UNESCO heritage sites, witnesses said.

The Salafist Ansar Dine group backs strict Sharia, Islamic law, and considers the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam to be idolatrous. Sufi shrines have also been attacked by hardline Salafists in Egypt and Libya in the past year.

Residents say the group has threatened to destroy all of the 16 main mausoleum sites in Timbuktu despite the international outcry against the attacks. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has called for an immediate halt to the attacks.

“We are subject to religion and not to international opinion. Building on graves is contrary to Islam. We are destroying the mausoleums because it is ordained by our religion,” Oumar Ould Hamaha, a spokesman for Ansar Dine said on July 1.

The attack came days after UNESCO placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger.








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