Hope for the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu

Last week news outlets reported that militant Islamic rebels fleeing Timbuktu in Mali had torched a new library, destroying many of the city's famed ancient books. Preservationists and the Mali government are now reporting that many of the manuscripts were hidden in a safe house before the attack.

While there remains much confusion around the issue, officials are saying that they moved the manuscripts in secret when the rebels came into the city last year. They did not reveal the current location of the manuscripts.

Tibuktu was a major center of trade and learning in the 15th and 16th centuries. Due to its isolated location many of its manuscripts had survived the centuries, often protected by families who kept the books as family heirlooms.