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Mali manuscripts in Timbuktu are mostly safe, South Africa university says

  • ecd84f52643ce603270f6a70670034c1.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts belonging to 48-year old Fatama Bocar Sambala, above, are shown in her mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali. Islamist extremists torched a library containing historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor of the town said Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, while owners have succeeded in removing some of the manuscripts from Timbuktu to save them and others have been carefully hidden away from the Islamists. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

  • ab46ea4b643de603270f6a706700f9cd.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, Alhousseini Ould Alfadrou, 16, sings verses from crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts in a mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali. Islamist extremists torched a library containing historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor of the town said Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, while owners have succeeded in removing some of the manuscripts from Timbuktu to save them and others have been carefully hidden away from the Islamists. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

  • 8d33013a643ce603270f6a706700aae8.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, Alhousseini Ould Alfadrou, 16, sings verses from crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts in a mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali. Islamist extremists torched a library containing historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor of the town said Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, while owners have succeeded in removing some of the manuscripts from Timbuktu to save them and others have been carefully hidden away from the Islamists. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

  • 2d5b4359643ce603270f6a70670017bd.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, crumbling ancient Islamic manuscripts belonging to 48-year old Fatama Bocar Sambala, above-left, are shown in her mud-walled house in Timbuktu, Mali. Islamist extremists torched a library containing historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor of the town said Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, while owners have succeeded in removing some of the manuscripts from Timbuktu to save them and others have been carefully hidden away from the Islamists. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

  • c7b88c8c6439e603270f6a706700bcbf.jpg

    In this photo taken Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2004, some of the 20,000 preserved ancient Islamic manuscripts which rest in air-conditioned rooms are displayed at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, Mali. Islamist extremists torched the library containing the historic manuscripts in Timbuktu, the mayor of the town said Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, while owners have succeeded in removing some of the manuscripts from Timbuktu to save them and others have been carefully hidden away from the Islamists. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (The Associated Press)

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.