Gao youth block Islamists from applying Sharia penalty
Malian citizens on Sunday (August 5th) prevented extremists from chopping off the hand of a thief, AFP reported.
"Hundreds of youths stormed independence square in Gao to prevent the sentence from being carried out," a local teacher said.
On Saturday night, al-Qaeda splinter group MUJAO announced on private radio that the Sharia sentence would be imposed Sunday at the square.
"They were not able to take the prisoner to the square to cut off his hand. The residents of Gao occupied the square and refused to allow the thief's hand to be amputated," the leader of a local NGO said on condition of anonymity.
The accused was a young MUJAO recruit who had allegedly stolen weapons in order to re-sell them.
"We don't want to know what this young man did, but they are not going to cut his hand off in front of us. The Islamists have retreated and the civilians sang the national hymn as a sign of victory," another resident said.
Another armed Islamist group, Ansar al-Din, publically stoned an unmarried couple to death last Sunday in Aguelhok. The group has forced women to cover up and whipped smokers and drinkers.
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