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Islamic extremists desecrate Muslim saint’s Timbuktu tomb

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BAMAKO — Members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb have desecrated a Muslim saint’s tomb in the fabled city of Timbuktu, an official said on Saturday.

“Members of AQIM, supported by (the armed Islamist group) Ansar Dine, have destroyed the tomb of Saint Sidi (Mahmoud Ben) Amar. They set fire to the tomb,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that they had pledged to destroy others too.

Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site and cradle of Islamic learning, has been under the control of AQIM and Ansar Dine since the groups took advantage of a March 22 coup to take control of northern Mali.

“They promised to destroy other tombs, Timbuktu is in shock. Now they want to take and control other tombs and manuscripts,” the official said.

A local journalist confirmed the tomb was destroyed.

“This is very serious,” he said.

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Mali’s transitional government expressed outrage over the desecration, calling it “an unspeakable act”, in a statement read out on national television.

Beyond its historic mosques, the World Heritage site comprises 16 cemeteries and mausolea, according to the UNESCO website.

These tombs are “essential elements in a religious system as, according to popular belief; they constitute a rampart that shields the city from all misfortune”, the UN cultural organisation said.

Sometimes called the city of 333 saints, Timbuktu is also home to nearly 100,000 ancient manuscripts, some dating to the 12th century, preserved in family homes and private libraries under the care of religious scholars.

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At its height in the 1500s, the city, a Niger River port at the edge of the Sahara a thousand kilometres (600 miles) north of Bamako, was the key intersection for salt traders traveling from the north and gold traders from the south.

It was also a renowned centre of Islamic scholarship, with manuscripts written in Arabic and Fulani by scholars of the ancient Mali empire, covering a range of subjects including Islam, history, astronomy, music, botany, genealogy and anatomy.

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‘We have been under siege’: Trump falsely claims he has been ‘violently’ attacked by his critics

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President Donald Trump claimed to be the victim of "violence" during his official campaign kickoff in Orlando, Florida.

"Many times I said we would drain the swamp and that’s exactly what we are doing right now. We are draining the swamp," Trump claimed, despite having the most scandal-plagued administration in American history.

"And that is why the swamp is fighting back so viciously and violently," Trump argued.

"For the last two and a half years we have been under siege and with the Mueller report we want and now they want a do-over. They want a do-over," he repeated.

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‘He wants the spotlight back’: CNN commentator says Trump is jealous of all the attention Democrats are getting

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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump held a rally in Orlando, Florida to formally kick off his re-election campaign for 2020.

And as CNN's Gloria Borger explained to John Berman, Trump desperately needed this event — because he was jealous of how much coverage the Democratic presidential candidates are getting.

"One source told CNN campaign officials are hoping this event will satisfy the president's thirst for the spotlight and reset the campaign's efforts," said Berman. "This is the 60th campaign rally for the president. So is there any reason to think that this event could move the needle?"

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied ‘proudly and with impunity’ because she was raised to be ‘impervious to reason’: WH reporter

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Outgoing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was blasted by a White House correspondent for her brazen lying from the White House podium.

"Sarah Sanders is a true believer. Conditioned by an upbringing rooted in Christian rhetoric that's impervious to reason, she views the world through a lens in which everything exists in absolutes," Playboy magazine White House correspondent Brian Karem wrote.

Her father, Mike Huckabee, is an Evangelical pastor who served as the Republican governor of Arkansas prior to unsuccessful presidential bids.

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