A handful of Gao's residents stand guard outside the entrance to the city's historic Tomb of Askia.
After Islamist forces destroyed a number of historic mausoleums in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu, residents in the town of Gao have taken to standing guard outside their own religious monuments. Our Observer describes how life in Gao has changed since Islamists took control of the region, amid fears that the city’s historic and spiritual sites could be next to come under attack.
Upon news of the destroyed mausoleums in Timbuktu, a number of residents in Gao, stationed themselves outside of the city’s treasured Tomb of Askia
, to ward off possible attacks.
Gao's historic Tomb of Askia. Photos courtesy of our Observer Amar Maiga.
Tensions have steadily grown in the area since the MNLA, Ansar Dine and several other radical groups seized the northern half of the country on March 31. In the months that followed, each group moved to take control of the region in a war of words that degenerated into an armed conflict. Ultimately, Islamist forces came out on top.