ZLITAN Aug 25 Conservative Islamists blew up
the tomb of a 15th century Sufi scholar and burned down a
library in the Libyan city of Zlitan, a military official said
on Saturday, the latest attacks on sites in the region branded
idolatrous by some sects.
The attackers used bombs and a bulldozer to destroy a
complex of shrines that included the tomb of Abdel Salam
al-Asmar on Friday and ruined thousands of books at the Asmari
Mosque library, said witnesses and Zlitan military council
official Omar Ali.
Hardliners, many of them emboldened by the Arab Spring
revolts, have targeted a number of sites belonging to Islam's
mystical Sufi tradition in Libya, Egypt and Mali over the past
The assaults have also recalled the 2001 dynamiting by the
Taliban of two 6th-century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff
in Bamiyan in central Afghanistan.
Friday's attacks followed two days of clashes between tribal
factions in Zlitan which killed two people and injured 18,
according to military council counts.
"The extremist Salafis took advantage (of the fact) that
security officials were busy calming down the clashes and they
desecrated the shrine," Ali told Reuters, referring to
conservative Muslims who see many Sufi sites as idolatrous.
(Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Editing by Andrew Heavens)