, BAMAKO, Sept 11 – Islamists from an Al-Qaeda offshoot on Monday chopped a hand and a foot off four suspected robbers in the northern Malian city of Gao, witnesses told AFP.
“The Islamists from MUJAO (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) controlling Gao amputated four people of a hand and a foot,” a local official in the city said on condition of anonymity.
The four allegedly “attacked a vehicle in the region not long ago”, the Gao official said. Another resident confirmed his statement.
A MUJAO official told AFP that the group had “used the sharia (Islamic law) against four people” on Monday.
“We will apply it again to thieves in the next days,” he added without giving further details.
The resident said the amputations were carried out on Gao’s Independence square.
The men allegedly attacked a bus between Gao and Niamey, the capital of neighbouring Niger, in August.
The condition of the amputees and the place they were taken was not immediately known.
Gao lawmaker Abdou Sidibe, speaking from the capital Bamako, told AFP he learnt about the amputations of the four men from several people in Gao, one of the three main towns in northern Mali occupied by armed Islamists since late March.
“Islamists in a Gao square chopped a hand and a foot off the four robbers who attacked a bus last month,” Sidibe said by telephone.
“This is terrible! I can only condemn this and cry, the international community is abandoning us,” he added.
The stoning to death of an unwed couple, amputations, whippings for “illegitimate” couples and people who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol have been among the harsh punishments meted out by the Islamists, who claim ties with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.