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Mali Islamists Threaten 60 More Amputations

Wed, August 29, 2012

Natives of Gao, Mali, are in a state of “severe panic and terror” following the brutal implementation of Sharia law instituted by the Islamists after their takeover of the northern part of the country last spring, according to Anara Ag Ntalu, a resident of the city.

Most recently, it was reported that the man who had his hand cut off in Assongo last week after being accused of theft had died of his wounds. The Islamists had  refused to allow him be transferred to a hospital that could offer him proper care.

Two days afterwards, his mother died of a heart attack, said Moussa Ag Chrouga, a resident of Ansongo, as reported by Magharebia.com.

"The young man couldn't bear the amputation of his right hand, and his wound didn't respond to the poor treatment which was provided by the poorly-equipped health clinic in Ansongo, which was represented in a simple splint, some simple pain killers and antibiotics, and therefore, bled to death," Ag Chrouga was quoted as saying.

"As to his mother, she died out of her grief and sadness when the militants didn't listen to her pleas to them to leave her son or transfer him to a decent place for treatment," he added. "The residents of Ansongo and Gao were very sad, but they still remember their bad experience [when they tried to protest], which made them hesitate to go out in protests to avoid the fall of more victims."

Activist Nina Walet Ntalo says the theft was precipitated by extreme poverty and the impossibility of escaping the area that the Islamists control. The situation particularly affects the Tourareg people, a Nomadic tribe in Africa. The young man who died was part of a Touareg.

"These behaviours are enough for the entire world to act, not just Touaregs," Ntalo told Magharebia.

A reporter, Mohamed Ag Ahmedu, said the victim was accused of stealing arms and selling them to feed himself and his family. This extreme poverty is a condition indicative of most young people in the villages under the Islamists' control, he said.

In order to eat, they can either steal or join the Islamists in exchange for food, which most young people refuse to do.

"The pleas and mediation of many local dignitaries didn't succeed in convincing [the Islamists] to pardon the young man," Ag Ahmedu is quoted as saying. "The Islamist militants seem to have had a desire to take revenge against him because he was a recruit in their ranks, then gave them up, fled with his weapon and sold it to a person."

According to another journalist, Abou Bakr al-Ansar, locals were planning on protesting the amputation but were too afraid after the Islamists “launched a major campaign of intimidation."

The Islamists, who belong to an Al Qaeda off-shoot called the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, have threatened to amputate the hands of 60 other people.

A local Muslim cleric was quoted by the news site on the condition of anonymity. The cleric reported that the amputation was "not the first-of-its-kind incident in terms of the implementation of Sharia rules. We see flogging and warning, and stoning to death was seen in Aguelhok a few days ago," he told Magharebi.

The cleric also said that there is a precedent for suspending such laws. "As clerics, we consider the current condition of people to be similar to the condition of Muslims in the year of al-Ramada when Omar Bin al-Khattab suspended the implementation of hadd punishment because of people's poverty and need," he explained.

"The dominating feeling among people is that after a few months from now under this reality, there will be many mutilated, one-legged people in our cities because of the amputation of body organs without any mercy," he said.

Yet Ag Ntalu vowed that that the people would rise up against the Islamists. "The day will come when we go out with our bare chests in defiance of death, with our slogan being, 'Yes to death, No to humiliation'," he said.

See ClarionProject.org’s related report Islamists Amputate Thief’s Hand in Mali