Islamists amputated the right hand and left foot of five suspected thieves in accordance with Sharia law in Mali on Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Residents and a hospital official in the city of Gao confirmed the news to Reuters.
The northern region of Mali was taken over by Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels five months ago, the AP noted.
One of the armed Islamist groups that controls northern Mali, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), said it intended to impose Sharia law on all of Mali. According to Reuters, the group has already carried out public flogging of adulterers and other corporal punishments, though this was the first group amputation.
Oumar Ould Hamaha, speaking to Reuters on behalf of the group, said, "According to the Sharia, the men had to face double punishment for theft and highway robbery."
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Gao's Islamic police commissioner, Aliou Hamahar Toure, told the AP that the victims had held up passenger buses leaving the city.
"They just said, `Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar! (`God is Great') until it was over. Then we took them to the hospital, where they are now receiving intensive care," Toure said.
Gao lawmaker Abdou Sidibe spoke to Agence France Presse about the incident, saying, "This is terrible! I can only condemn this and cry, the international community is abandoning us."
A MUJWA official told AFP that the group would use Sharia law on thieves again "in the next few days," without providing further details.
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