Islamists destroy Timbuktu mosque tombs

Islamist militants have destroyed two tombs at the famous 14th-century Djingareyber mosque in Timbuktu, classified by Unesco as a world heritage site, residents said.

About a dozen militants arrived in an armoured four-wheel drive truck. They fired in the air and started smashing the tombs, said a witness, Ibrahim Cisse.

"They blocked the two main roads leading to the mausoleums. When they saw people gathering for a ceremony nearby, they began firing shots in the air," said another resident, Mahamad ould Ibrahim.

The new destruction comes after attacks last week on other historic and religious landmarks in Timbuktu that Unesco called "wanton destruction". Islamists of the Ansar Dine group say the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam are idolatrous.

Djingareyber, together with the Sankore and Sidi Yahia mosques, are known as the three great mosques of the city.