have threatened to destroy shrines and mausoleums that they consider "idolatrous." Even more worrying is that the rebels control the fabled city of Timbuktu, and any effort to return the region to the government's control would have to involve retaking this key city.
According to one man in Timbuktu interviewed by the BBC, the militants fled the city last week, when the French first began bombing. They seem to have panicked and driven off into the desert. But that might have changed by now.