Moscow condemns cultural vandalism in Mali

Moscow has called on militants in Mali to spare cultural monuments.

"According to reports from Mali, militants of the Ansar ad-Din group have destroyed a number of mausoleums of local saints in Timbuktu, a city in the separatist-controlled northern part of the country. The Islamists vowed to destroy more historical and cultural sites they claim to be out of tune with Islam. The remaining shrines that feature among UNESCO's endangered world heritage sites, and a collection of ancient Islamic and pre-Islamic manuscripts may disappear forever," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

It strongly urged the militants who claimed responsibility for the vandalism to refrain from actions that might damage historical and cultural monuments that belong to the entire world.

"Moscow decisively condemns the Timbuktu vandalism and fully shares UNESCO's alarm. We believe that this is yet another pretext for a consolidated international response for the sake of speedily restoring the territorial integrity of Mali and ensuring law and order throughout its territory," the statement says.

Late last week, Ansar ad-Din radicals attacked mausoleum compounds in Timbuktu.

On Thursday, UNESCO listed Timbuktu among endangered world heritage sites.

Addressing reporters in St. Petersburg on Monday, Kishore Rao, Director of the World Heritage Center, expressed deep concern over Timbuktu’s monuments.

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