UN Body Moves to Protect Historic Sites Under Attack in Mali

Posted July 3rd, 2012 at 11:25 am (UTC-5)
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The U.N. World Heritage Committee has called for a special fund to protect Mali's cultural heritage, after militants destroyed ancient shrines in Timbuktu.

In a statement Tuesday, the 21-member committee condemned what it called “repugnant acts” by Islamist hardliners.

The panel also recommended the U.N. send a mission to Mali as soon as possible to assess the damage and outline the most urgent conservation needs.

Members of the al-Qaida-linked group Ansar Dine began destroying 15th and 16th-century mausoleums on Saturday. The mausoleums contain the remains of Muslim saints. Militants say the sites are idolatrous and sacrilegious.

Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups won control of key cities in northern Mali after a March coup in the south. Since then, the Islamist groups have seized full control of the region.