Before this country fell to Islamic militants, Bono, the lead singer of U2, came to Mali in January. He performed at a world-famous music festival just outside of Timbuktu, a desert city just 9 miles north of the Niger River.
The "festival in the desert" has been a bright light in Mali for the past decade. The idea started when rival tribes burned their guns, 3-thousand of them in a bonfire symbolizing the end of fighting.
For nearly 700 years, tribes, even when fighting each other, preserved this city's history. There are 333 holy shrines in Timbuktu, dating from when this was one of the world's great capitals of Islamic learning.
Timbuktu is one of the most priceless cultural capitals in the world. And so it is a human sacrilege that in the past few weeks, militants have used pick-axes to destroy the shrines.
Tonight, the city is a military zone, under Islamist control. A spokesman for Ansar Dine said they will "destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception," said Sanda Ould Boumama, Ansar Dine spokesman.
We spoke to a radio disc jockey named El Hassan in Timbuktu. He no longer has work, because music is banned under the militants Sharia law.
And that brings me to tonight's number: 700,000.
That's how many ancient manuscripts are in Timbuktu.