TIMBUKTU, Mali, July 3 (UPI) -- Islamist militants in Mali say they will continue to destroy historic mausoleums in Timbuktu.
The militant group Ansar Dine, which led a successful revolt against Mali's central authority in March, has destroyed at least half-dozen shrines in the internationally protected city of Timbuktu over the past several days.
"It's very simple: It doesn't correspond to the rules of Islam," Sanda Ould Boumana, a spokesman for Ansar Dine in Timbuktu, was quoted as saying by The New York Times. "What doesn't correspond to Islam, we are going to correct."
The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee, has condemned the destruction of World Heritage sites and called on UNESCO to send a mission to Mali to assess the extent of the damage and destruction.
The 21-member committee Monday also appealed to all UNESCO member states and those in the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to provide financial resources to a fund to repair the damage to the sites, which recall Timbuktu's golden age in the 15th and 16th centuries "as an intellectual and spiritual capital and a center for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa."
The World Heritage Committee strongly condemned the acts of destruction of the mausoleums and called for an end to these "repugnant acts," UNESCO said in a release.
U.N. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser issued a statement Monday condemning the attacks, stressing the need to preserve Mali's cultural and historical heritage.