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Islamists Attack Timbuktu World Heritage Site

RIA Novosti

17:39 30/06/2012

MOSCOW, June 30 (RIA Novosti) - A religious shrine in Timbuktu, Mali, has been damaged in an attack by Islamists, news agencies reported.

The mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud is one of sixteen shrines in Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

UNESCO chairwoman Allissandra Cummins, who is attending a World Heritage Committee meeting in St. Petersburg, deplored the destruction and called on the conflicting sides to "exercise their responsibility."

The attack was reportedly carried out by the Ansar Dine movement, which believes the shrines are idolatrous. They have vowed to destroy all 16 of the shrines in Timbuktu.

On Thursday, UNESCO placed Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on its List of World Heritage in Danger.

UNESCO is particularly concerned that ancient manuscripts and other cultural objects will be looted from Timbuktu, which was a major outpost of Islam in Africa during the city's golden age in the 16th century.

Ansar Dine seized control of northern Mali along with Touareg separatists in March, but the two groups have since fallen into conflict.

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