Islamists Destroy Heritage Site


In this Wednesday, April 11, 2012 photo, people walk past Sankore Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Timbuktu, Mali. Amid the political upheaval following a March 21 coup, separatist rebels in northern Mali declared an independent state that is larger than France. The power vacuum also has allowed an Islamic faction that wants to impose Shariah law in the area to flourish. The streets of Timbuktu have emptied since Tuareg separatist rebels took power Sunday, April 1, as residents, fearing further fighting or the impact of Shariah law, flee south. (AP Photo)

Locals in the Malian city of Timbuktu have said that they will fight back “with sticks and stones” against al Qaeda–linked Islamists who destroyed ancient tombs on Saturday. The graves are classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites. “The youth of Timbuktu is preparing to retaliate against the desecration of the graves of our saint,” said city resident Ali Yattara. The militants are thought to have targeted the mausoleums of three Muslim saints because of local veneration for the sites. On Thursday, UNESCO placed the tombs on its “in danger” list at the request of officials in Mali, an action that may have caused the militants to attack.