By Serge Daniel | AFP –
Al-Qaeda linked Islamists in northern Mali went on the rampage in Timbuktu Saturday, destroying ancient tombs of Muslim saints just after UNESCO listed the fabled city as an endangered world heritage site.
The onslaught by armed militants from the fundamentalist Ansar Dine was launched amid the unrest in Mali’s vast desert north that erupted in the chaotic aftermath of a March 22 coup in Bamako.
“They have raped Timbuktu today. It is a crime,” said a source close to a local imam in Timbuktu, known as the “City of 333 Saints”.
Witnesses told AFP the Islamists, holding parts of northern Mali, have so far destroyed three ancient shrines.
“The tombs of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya in Timbuktu were destroyed Saturday by the Islamists… who are heading towards other tombs,” said one witness, whose report was confirmed by the source close to the imam.
In addition to three