DHAKA: Islamist fighters in Timbuktu have destroyed two tombs at the northern Malian city`s famous Djingareyber mosque, residents have said.
Eyewitnesses said the militants shot in the air to warn people away as they began smashing the shrines.
Timbuktu is a World Heritage site, with centuries-old shrines to Islamic saints, revered by Sufi Muslims.
The al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine group that seized the city in April says they are idolatrous and wants them removed, reports BBC.
The UN Security Council condemned the destruction last week of some shrines, warning it could constitute a war crime.
This means that a case could be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, whose prosecutor has already condemned the recent destruction of Muslim tombs as ‘war crimes’.
About a dozen militants drove up to the 14th-Century Djingareyber mosque in an armoured four-wheeled truck, armed with guns, pickaxes and hoes, one resident in Timbuktu who witnessed the scene told Reuters news agency.
Other residents described how the fighters blocked the two main roads leading to the mosque and shot in the air to scare people off.
BDST: 2004 HRS, JUL 10, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor