Islamist rebels smashed the entrance of a 15th-century Timbuktu mosque, while their Al-Qaeda allies in northern Mali cut off the key city of Gao by planting landmines all around it. In Timbuktu, rebels from the Al-Qaeda-allied Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) group continued their destruction of the city's cultural treasures, defying a chorus of international condemnation.
A west African source also confirmed that landmines had been planted around Gao "to prevent a possible attack by troops" from the west African regional bloc ECOWAS as well as a possible counter-offensive from Tuareg fighters.
In Timbuktu, militants from Ansar Dine who occupied Mali's vast north three months ago destroyed seven tombs of ancient Muslim saints they consider idolatrous over the weekend.
A spokesman said they were acting in the name of God and would "destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception".