The Ahmed Baba Institute, an Islamic learning center in the town of Timbuktu in the West African nation of Mali, holds thousands of ancient drawings and writings from the Quran and everyday life in this point along a historic Saharan caravan route.
On Monday, Timbuktu’s Mayor Ousmane Halle said from Mali’s capital Bamako that he had gotten word Islamist fighters had torched the library as well as his office before retreating. The Malian army, backed by French forces, are working on driving back rebel forces from cities they had taken over last year.
View an Independent Television News report from April 2012, when Islamists and local Tuareg rebels seized control of Timbuktu, and how militias were training to take back the city:
In 2003, NewsHour special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro visited the Ahmed Baba library and looked at efforts to preserve the manuscripts in a Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly report:
We’ll have more about the fighting in Mali on Monday’s NewsHour. View all of our World coverage and follow us on Twitter: