The vast majority of Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts in state or private collections appear to be unharmed after the city’s ten month occupation by Islamist rebel fighters, who burnt some of the scripts, experts said.

“I can say that the vast majority of the collections appear from our reports not to have been destroyed, damaged or harmed in any way,” said Cape Town University’s Professor Shamil Jeppie, an expert on the Saharan city’s manuscripts.

A Malian source also directly involved with the conservation of the Timbuktu manuscripts said that 95% of the total documents, whose number in the city and its surrounding region exceeds 300,000, were “safe and sound”.