What is the Heritage importance of Timbuktu?

In  June 2012, the armed fighters of Mail’s al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine Islamist group have destroyed mausoleums of saints in the ancient trading city of Timbuktu, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Timbuktu has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. However, it’s tourism industry could not cash in the benefits and suffered from the security problems

Timbuktu is home to prestigious Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas, it was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its three great mosques – Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia – are from that time.

Timbuktu’s manuscripts offer an unparalleled window into societies and intellectual traditions from the late 15th century onward, (however, they are mostly inaccessible). This vast legacy is on the verge of being lost due to brittleness, damage by termites, insects and the weather as well as illegal sales, mostly to foreigners. Many of these manuscripts are written in local vernaculars, some are in archaic forms of the present-day languages of Songhai, Tamasheq and Fulfulde.