[QODLink]
Africa
Fighters in Mali destroy more Timbuktu tombs
Ansar Dine bulldozed the tombs of three local Sufi saints, the latest in a series of attacks on heritage sites.
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2012 02:26
Ansar Dine fighters say they are defending the purity of their faith against idol worship [AP]

Al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Mali have bulldozed the tombs of three local Sufi saints near the desert city of Timbuktu, residents said, the latest in a series of attacks in the north that critics say threaten its cultural heritage.

Residents on Thursday said the rebels were from Ansar Dine, one of a mixture of groups now in control of northern the country.

"They arrived aboard six or seven vehicles, heavily armed," said Garba Maiga, a resident of Timbuktu, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its ancient shrines.

"They flattened everything with a bulldozer and pulled up the skeletal remains."

The destruction of the tombs follows an attack on another shrine outside Timbuktu at the end of September and several others in July.

Residents said the tombs destroyed included those of local saints Cheick Nouh, Cheick Ousmane el Kabir, and Cheick Mohamed Foulani Macina, several kilometres outside of the city gates.

A spokesman for Ansar Dine was not available to comment.

Power vacuum

The fighters say they are defending the purity of their faith against idol worship, though historians say their campaign of destruction is pulverising a valuable part of the history of Islam in Africa.

Sufi Islam, which reveres saints and sages with shrines, is popular across much of northern Mali.

Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that led to armed groups, some allied al-Qaeda, seizing the northern two-thirds of the country.

The UN Security Council last week passed a resolution urging African regional groups and the United Nations to present a specific plan within 45 days for military intervention in Mali to help government troops reclaim the north.

But diplomats say the challenges of putting together an African force make it unlikely an operation could be mounted before March at the earliest.

303

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.