9 August 2012
Last updated at 16:30 GMT
The Islamists in northern Mali are accused of having links with foreign jihadis
Militant Islamists in northern Mali have cut off a man’s hand as punishment for theft.
The amputation happened in public in the town of Ansongo, controlled by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) group.
Northern Mali has been overrun by Islamist and secular Tuareg rebels following a coup in Bamako in March.
The Islamists have vowed to implement strict Sharia law, despite opposition from the local population.
Witnesses told Reuters news agency that the crowd in the village square pleaded with the militants to spare the man.
Last week, a couple who had sex outside marriage were stoned to death in the town of Aguelhok, controlled by another Islamist group, Ansar Dine.
The group has also destroyed ancient shrines in Timbuktu, denouncing them as promoting idolatry.
‘A lot of blood’
A Mujao official, Mohamed Ould Abdine, said the amputation was in accordance with the “law of God”, the AFP news agency reports.
“Sharia demands it,” he said.
A local government official said dozens of people saw the amputation, AFP reports.
“There was a lot of blood when the hand was cut. It was the hand of a thief who stole a motorbike,” he said.
On Sunday, scores of protesters in the main regional town of Gao, about 100km (60 miles) from Ansongo, prevented Islamists from carrying out an amputation.
Mr Abdine said the sentence had only been postponed and would be implemented.
Mediators from the West African regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), have held talks with the Islamists.
Ecowas has urged them to sever ties with foreign jihadi groups such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and to enter into talks with the government in Bamako.
Ecowas is also trying to win UN backing to send troops to Mali to restore order.
The Islamists took power in alliance with Tuareg rebels fighting for a separate state, but the two groups have since fallen out.R Soft Web Hosting