Mali's Timbuktu and Askia Tomb on Unesco danger list

  • The United Nations has expressed its concern over Mali's historical city of Timbuktu as violence in the country's north escalates.

    UNESCO, the UN's cultural agency, said both Timbuktu and the 17th Century Tomb of Askia in the city of Gao had been placed on its list of sites in danger.

    Islamist forces have recently seized Gao from Tuareg rebels.

    UNESCO added it was also worried about looting and smuggling of artefacts.

    Located on the edge of the Sahara Desert, Timbuktu contains many examples of architecture, which is hundreds of years old and made mainly from mud and wood.

    It was a center of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th Centuries. 700,000 manuscripts survive in public libraries and private collections

    Concerns about Timbuktu's ancient sites were raised following a coup in March that overthrew the government.