The presence of French troops in Mali may help to protect a priceless cultural legacy which has been under siege by Islamist fighters. The BBC reports on the fate of the ancient city of Timbuktu:
The historic city is a World Heritage site, renowned for its architecture, manuscript libraries and centuries-old shrines to Islamic saints – revered by Sufi Muslims but which the Salafi militants consider idolatrous.
Many of these shrines, mausoleums, and other treasures have been destroyed just as the Taliban waged war against Afghanistan’s Buddhist monuments.
Mali crisis: ‘Timbuktu joy after life of fear’
Following France’s intervention in Mali last week, a Timbuktu resident, who asked to remain anonymous, tells the BBC about reaction in the city to the Islamist fighters’ apparent withdrawal.
Sadly, in other areas they control, Islamists continue to silence Mali’s vibrant musical culture.
Sounds like a lot more damage has already been done: Timbuktu mayor says Islamists burned texts (AP)