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Ancient Texts Destroyed As French and Malian Troops Re-Take Ancient Town
By Harold Hutchison

The Ahmed Baba Institute was torched by Islamist rebels in the ancient African city. The institute held a number of ancient documents dating back to the 13th century, and there is growing concern about the extent of the damage.

The documents were in a number of ancient languages, including Hebrew, and were from a time when Timbuktu was not only a trading hub, but also in an era of Islamic scholarship. The library is not the only item of historical significance that has been damaged in this latest revolt: A number of ancient mausoleums were destroyed by Islamist rebels in the months they held on to the city.

French and Malian troops re-took Timbuktu on 28 January. French forces have been aiding Malian and other African troops in the fight against rebels who are receiving support from Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.