As reported by BBC, yesterday (28th Jan, 2013) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21227053), as the French and Malian troops reached Timbuktu, they found that thousands of ancient manuscripts had been destroyed by the rebels. The reports also show that militants also destroyed a library of ancient manuscripts, dating back to the 13th Century. The video footage of the library shows charred books and empty boxes. The library, the Ahmed Baba institute, held about 30,000 manuscripts, and included documents about many centuries of life in Mali and neighboring countries.
About six months ago, the UNESCO reported that the rebels were destroying the ancient city of Timbuktu and the government of Mali also petitioned the UNESCO for help and for the preservation of ancient and national heritage sites like the Tomb of Askia in Gao (http://www.policymic.com/articles/11190/al-qaeda-groups-are-destroying-timbuktu-a-unesco-world-heritage-site-in-mali)