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Reuters in Bamako, July 1, 2012
Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes have destroyed the centuries-old mausoleums of saints in the Unesco-listed city of Timbuktu in front of shocked locals, witnesses say.
The attack by the al-Qaida-linked Ansar Dine group came days after Unesco placed Timbuktu on its list of heritage sites in danger [....]
"They are armed and have surrounded the sites with pick-up trucks. The population is just looking on helplessly," said a local journalist, Yeya Tandina.
Tandina and other witnesses said Ansar Dine had already destroyed the mausoleums of three local saints – Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi el-Mokhtar and Alfa Moya – and at least seven tombs. "The mausoleum doesn't exist any more and the cemetery is as bare as a soccer pitch," a local teacher, Abdoulaye Boulahi, said of the Mahmoud burial place [....]