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Timbuktu bars smashed by Muslim protesters in Mali

Bamako, Mali | AFP | 

Dozens of young Muslims opposed to alcoholic beverages smashed bars and liquor stalls in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu on Saturday, saying they were “places of depravity”, local sources said.

“The youngsters were very organised, having targeted what to destroy,” said a resident reached by phone who asked not to be identified. “Beer bottles were smashed and bags containing alcohol were destroyed.”

Several dozen youths were involved in the protest, a police source said, adding that at least five bars and stalls had been ransacked in the city more than 900 kilometres north of the capital Bamako.

An army source said no one had been injured in the protests.

Fabled Timbuktu has been dubbed “the city of 333 saints” for the number of Muslim sages buried there and was revered as a centre of Islamic learning during its golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries.

But in 2012 jihadists who swept across Mali’s remote north demolished many centuries-old earthen shrines.

One of the organisers of Saturday’s anti-liquor drive, Ousmane Maiga, said the protesters belonged to youth groups and Muslim organisations in Timbuktu.

“Alcohol consumption has increased recently and as we are on Muslim land we do not to see this any longer,” he said.

The protests recalled similar events after the north of Mali fell under the control of Tuareg-led rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.

They were largely ousted by a French-led military operation in January 2013, but the implementation of a 2015 peace accord has been piecemeal, with insurgents still active across large parts of the nation.


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