JOHANNESBURG – A South African university says a limited number of manuscripts in the fabled city of Timbuktu in Mali were damaged or stolen by Islamist extremists as they fled the city.
The University of Cape Town, which helped fund a state-of-the-art library to house the manuscripts, said Wednesday that sources in Timbuktu connected to the manuscripts reported that there was no malicious destruction of the items. It said that custodians of the libraries worked quietly throughout the militant occupation to ensure the safety of the manuscripts.
Most of the manuscripts, which are as many as 900 years old, were gathered between the 1980s and 2000 from all over Mali.
Islamist militants took over the city in April 2012. On Tuesday French and Malian troops assumed control of the city.