Arts, Culture & Media

Timbuktu Locals Said to Have Rescued Ancient Texts

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Timbuktu's ancient documents - Vivienne Walt

In Mali, residents of Timbuktu are celebrating their ancient city's liberation after French and Malian troops reclaimed the city on Monday. It had been under the control of Islamist rebels for the past 10 months.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the audio to hear it.)

Preservationists, though, are still sorting out the fate of ancient texts that had been housed at Timbuktu's Ahmed Baba Institute.

The rebels torched the Institute as they fled the city, and many initial reports indicated that tens of thousands of priceless documents had been destroyed.

But reporter Vivienne Walt, who has been following the story for Time Magazine, says that her sources say many of the documents were safely taken out of the Institute before the rebels set fire to the building.

"I had been told for months that the documents were safe," Walt says. "Last night, most of my sources were saying that they had hauled out almost all of the documents from Ahmed Baba Institute, and had hidden them in a safe house elsewhere."

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