I witnessed the destruction. There were between 40 and 50 assailants. After having blocked traffic, they destroyed two tombs attached to the great mosque of Djingareyber. They then covered the rubble with sand. After that, they sought to repair the parts of the mosque that they themselves had damaged. [The two tombs that were destroyed were adjacent to an exterior wall of the mosque.]
The tombs that were destroyed had a national and international reputation, and had helped make our city known throughout the world. In addition to being outraged, the people today are completely demoralized, because all of Timbuktu’s culture is disappearing.
"We are angry with the government that abandoned us, leaving us in the hands of these insurgents"
We are angry with the government that abandoned us, leaving us in the hands of these insurgents. And we are revolted because they have begun to treat us as a colony. They have imposed on us a radical version of Islam that had never before been seen in Timbuktu. Even imams can no longer speak freely.
We no longer have access to television or radio. Before, life was pleasant here. Now, everything is complicated. And added to this is the burden of the economy. I do not know one family who has the equivalent of a dollar in their pocket. Supply trucks arrive almost empty. Electricity is also scarce.
We have even lost the freedom to move. Yesterday, for example, there were warning shots fired in the air. Rallies, marches and meetings are immediately dispersed. Today, the streets of the city are empty. The citizens of Timbuktu stay at home, more depressed than ever.