Ansar Dine threatened with legal action in destruction of monuments
Islamist group destroying holy shrines in Timbuktu described as 'war crimes'
About 30 members of the Ansar Dine group, armed with Kalashnikovs and pickaxes destroyed three mausoleums of saints this past weekend.
Bensouda wished to remind others that Mali was a signatory to the Rome Statute, a document that established the ICC and states that deliberate attacks against undefended civilian buildings which are not military objectives are a war crime.
"This includes attacks against historical monuments as well as destruction of buildings dedicated to religion," Bensouda said.
About 30 members of the group, armed with Kalashnikovs and pickaxes destroyed three mausoleums of saints this past weekend.
"They had armed men guarding the door. Just like yesterday, the population did not react. They said we need to let them do what they want, hoping that someday we will rebuild the tombs," Yaya Tandina, a local journalist told Reuters.
At least seven ancient tombs have been smashed by the rebels since Saturday. Ansar Dine's interpretation of Islam considers such places as idolatrous and calls for their destruction.
Timbuktu's independence monument, which depicts Al Farouk, a symbol of the ancient city on a horse was destroyed on Saturday.
Ansar Dine also threatened to destroy the city's three ancient mosques, one of which dates back to 1327.
The destruction comes after UNESCO listed the city as an endangered site because of the continuing violence in northern Mali and in the wake of an attack on a fifteenth century tomb in May.
"God is unique. All of this is haram [forbidden]. We are all Muslims. UNESCO is what," an Ansar Dine spokesman said.
The government of Mali has urged the outside world to take concrete steps to stop the destruction of the sites.
"Those who are destroying religious buildings in Timbuktu should do so in full knowledge that they will be held accountable and justice will prevail," she said.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Ansar Dine, destruction of monuments, Mali, Timbuktu
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