Russia slams desecration of Muslim saint's tomb in Mali

Moscow has condemned the desecration of a Muslim saint's tomb in the separatist-occupied part of Mali and has expressed anxiety that a local collection of ancient manuscripts, some of them pre-Muslim, are in danger.

The desecration of the tomb of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar, classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site, is believed to be the work of Islamist armed group Ansar Dine.

"Moscow sharply condemns this outrage of the radicals and insistently urges all public, political, ethnic and religious forces, including those on the separatist-occupied territories of the Republic of Mali, to thwart further acts that could damage valuable spiritual monuments of Islamic culture and history that are world heritage sites under the protection of UNESCO," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.