Al Qaeda-linked Islamists in Timbuktu yesterday broke down the door to a 15th century mosque that locals believed had to stay shut until the end of the world, defying international calls to halt the destruction of holy sites in the Unesco-listed city.
In a third day of attacks on historic and religious landmarks, the ancient Sidi Yahya mosque was targetted by Islamists trying to erase what they regard as un-Islamic idolatry.
"In legend, it is said that the main gate of Sidi Yahya mosque will not be opened until the last day [of the world]," Alpha Abdoulahi, the town imam, said. Yet eight Islamist fighters had smashed down the door to the mosque saying they wanted to "destroy the mystery" of the ancient entrance, he said.
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