Factbox – Timbuktu, ancient city’s Islamic heritage at risk
Al Qaeda-linked Islamists have begun destroying Timbuktu’s ancient religious and historical sites, arguing they are un-Islamic. Ansar Dine, which experts say has links to local al Qaeda factions, has gained the upper hand over its erstwhile rebel allies, the secular MNLA group, after the two routed government forces and seized control of Mali’s desert north in April.
The group wants to impose sharia, the traditional system of Islamic law and customs, across Mali and says Timbuktu’s famed Sufi shrines are un-Islamic and idolatrous.
Timbuktu has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.
Here is a Factbox outlining the unique heritage now at risk in Timbuktu: