Islamists destroy Timbuktu shrines

 Armed Islamists from a hardline group occupying lawless northern Mali on Saturday destroyed the shrine of a revered Muslim saint in Timbuktu and are attacking another, witnesses said.

“As I am speaking to you, Islamists from Ansar Dine have destroyed the mausoleum of saint Sidi Mahmoud,” said a witness from the fabled city of Timbuktu, which has been listed by UNESCO as an endangered world heritage site.

The saint’s 15th-century tomb was also desecrated by extremist Islamists in May after groups including Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb seized control of the vast desert north following a March coup in Bamako. “They are now in the process of destroying the mausoleum (of Sidi Moctar),” said a journalist.

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