PARIS, June 28 (UPI) -- World Heritage sites in Mali have been placed on an endangered list at the request of the Mali government because of threats from armed conflict.
The 21-member World Heritage Committee, which designates the sites listed as World Heritage Sites, accepted a request from the government in Mali to place Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on a list of endangered sites.
"The decision aims to raise cooperation and support for the sites threatened by the armed conflict in the region," a committee statement read.
The World Heritage Sites in Mali were attacked by anti-government forces in May. The committee, during an early June meeting, called on Mali's neighbors to work to prevent trafficking of objects that could be looted from the historic sites.
"There is concern that such objects, notably important ancient manuscripts, be looted and smuggled abroad by unscrupulous dealers," the committee said.
Rebels claimed autonomy for northern Mali shortly after a military coup early this year.
Members of Ansar Dine, an Islamist rebel group from the north, met last week with mediators from Africa in an effort to find a solution to the crisis.
The Economic Community of West African States has asked for support from the United Nations to send troops to Mali should negotiations fail.