Much to the relief of the residents, the French and Malian soldiers regained control in Timbuktu. Many lives and assets have been destroyed during the ongoing violence between the French troops, the government and the Islamists groups in Mali. Timbuktu was center of Islamic learning centuries ago and home to precious Islamic manuscripts and is on the U.N. World Heritage List.
The militants which are in fact a part of al- Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were forced out of the desert city by the French and Malian forces but before fleeing away, they torched down the Ahmed Baba library, that contained thousands of manuscripts from the Middle Ages. The library which had almost 20,000 treasures was due to receive 28,000 another manuscripts but didn’t when the militants had entered the city last year.
The documents contain texts ranging from science, geography to mathematics and Islamic law, some of which had gold illumination dating back as far as the 13th century. They were imported to Timbuktu from Egypt and North Africa and different scholars would use them to add material to their own libraries.
The AQIM which claims to be an ‘Islamic’ (militant) organization is notorious for its strict Shariah laws and practices. It is therefore a proof of their terrorism that priceless Islamic manuscripts were torched by their hands, something that is sacred and important to Muslims all over the world.
While the place was torched down by the militants before they fled, many experts who are in charge of the library maintain that many of the manuscripts were removed from the library before the attack.
Mahmoud Zouber, Mali’s presidential aide on Islamic affairs told in an interview said, “The documents which had been there are safe, they were not burned.”
The militants might have left Timbuktu but have done a lot of irreparable damage to the historic city.