They started off with the tombs of various Muslim saints, and have threatened to destroy all the other religious shrines in the ancient city.
“They have raped Timbuktu today. It is a crime,” said a source close to a local imam in the town known as the “City of 333 Saints”.
“This is tragic news for us all,” Alissandra Cummins, chair of UNESCO’s executive committee, said in a statement to AFP in Russia, where the body is meeting this week, describing the attacks as “wanton damage”.
“I appeal to all those engaged in the conflict in Timbuktu to exercise their responsibility.”
According to Sanda Ould Boumama, spokesman for Ansar Dine,
“Ansar Dine will today destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception.”
Why? Because the supremely ignorant thugs are pissed off that UNESCO put Timbuktu on the endangered list.
“God is unique. All of this is haram (or forbidden in Islam). We are all Muslims. UNESCO is what?” he said, declaring that Ansar Dine -- which wants to impose sharia law in the region -- was acting “in the name of God.”
What? One would think they'd be elated that a Western organization would be interested in saving the 'seat of Islamic learning', but no.
Sadly, they aren't the first to destroy a world heritage treasure in Timbuktu, al-Qaeda had already destroyed the tomb of Sidi Mahmoud in May. Ansar Dine just finished off the mausoleum.
“As I am speaking to you, Islamists from Ansar Dine have destroyed the mausoleum of saint Sidi Mahmoud,” one witness told AFP.
“They are now in the process of destroying the mausoleum (of Sidi Moctar),” added a local journalist. “They have said they will destroy everything.”
Home to three mosques, 16 cemeteries and mausolea and 100,000 manuscripts, a piece of ancient history could be wiped out in no time. Islamists have destroyed other ancient monuments, like the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan, but one would think they would want to preserve their own religious treasures.
Countries that might try to intervene have been warned not to get involved.