UNESCO has voiced alarm over the safety of Timbuktu’s cultural heritage, following reports that rebels have over-run and looted centres containing thousands of ancient books and documents that bear testimony to the city’s extraordinary history.

In 1990, the UN put the legendary Malian city on the list of World Heritage sites in danger but the two main threats facing it were desertification and human neglect.

This situation has now been compounded by insecurity, vandalism and the prospect of war.

Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall reports from Timbuktu.