independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Looters target Arab-owned shops in freed Timbuktu

CROWDS of looters rampaged from shop to shop, targeting those owned by ethnic Arabs in the newly liberated city of Timbuktu as troops struggled to maintain control a day after they were greeted as heroes.

Residents accused shop owners of supporting the radical Islamists who occupied the city for more than nine months, imposing strict interpretations of Muslim law on the population.

Soldiers who were cheered as they rolled into the city the day before were forced to mount heavily armed patrols. Weapons and military communication equipment were found in at least one of the premises targeted by the mob, according to a Malian infantry officer.

In one suburb, a bearded middle-aged man, apparently from north Africa, was dragged from a building used as an Islamist re-education centre and was only saved from being lynched when troops intervened. "He is not from here, he is a terrorist," the crowd was reported to have shouted.

Timbuktu's melting pot of different ethnic groups and traders was the source of increasing tension, as residents from Algeria and other Saharan states were targeted. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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