Authorities say Islamic militants have destroyed an historic mausoleum in central Mali that had been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Armed men are believed to have used dynamite to blow up the mausoleum of Cheick Amadou Barry, a religious leader who died in the 19th century.

One of his descendants, Bologo Amadou Barry, confirmed to The Associated Press that the site had been partially ruined in Hamdallahi village on Sunday night.

The development in central Mali comes two years after radical jihadists were ousted from power in the north.

During their rule in 2012, the extremists also destroyed heritage sites in Timbuktu.

The jihadists left behind a note Sunday warning they would attack those who did not follow the teachings of Islam's prophet.