|English: Image of Timbuktu manuscripts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The rebel group Ansar Dine say the relics are un-Islamic.
Just days ago, the UN cultural agency UNESCO placed the shrines on its list of endangered heritage sites.
Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane reports.
Timbuktu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In its Golden Age, the town's numerous Islamic scholars and extensive trading network made possible an important book trade: together with the campuses of the Sankore Madrasah, an Islamic university, this established Timbuktu as a scholarly centre in Africa. Several notable historic writers, such as Shabeni and Leo Africanus, have described Timbuktu. These stories fuelled speculation in Europe, where the city's reputation shifted from being extremely rich to being mysterious. This reputation overshadows the town itself in modern times, to the point where it is best known in Western culture as an expression for a distant or outlandish place.
Azawad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Azawad (Tuareg: ⴰⵣⴰⵓⴷ, Azawd; Arabic: أزواد , Azawād; French: Azawad or Azaouad) is a territory situated (chiefly) in northern Mali as well as an unrecognised state unilaterally declared by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in 2012 after a Tuareg rebellion drove the Malian Army from the territory. Azawad, as claimed by the MNLA, comprises the Malian regions of Timbuktu, Kidal, Gao, as well as a part of Mopti region, encompassing about 60 percent of Mali's claimed total land area. Azawad borders Burkina Faso to the south, Mauritania to the west and northwest, Algeria to the north and northeast, and Niger to the east and southeast, with undisputed Mali to its southwest. It straddles a portion of the Sahara and the Sahelian zone. Gao is its largest city and the temporary capital, while Timbuktu is the second largest city, and intended to be the permanent capital.Ansar Dine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ansar Dine (Arabic: أنصار الدين, also transliterated Ançar Dine, Ançar Deen or Ansar ad-Din; meaning "Defenders of Faith") is an Islamist group led by Iyad Ag Ghaly. Ag Ghaly, one of the most prominent figures of a Tuareg rebellion in the 1990s, is accused of having links with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Islamist groups, a splinter group which is led by his cousin Hamada Ag Hama. Ansar Dine wants the imposition of strict Sharia law across Mali. The group's first action was in March 2012.