Mali: Islamist commander who seized Timbuktu imposes Sharia, promptly cuts off man’s hand in public

It’s only a matter of time before these guys get an invite to the Obama White House, too.

Telegraph – Ayad Ag Ghaly, leader of the faction of tribal Tuareg fighters that is allied to al-Qaeda, was reported to have carried out the sentence on an unnamed “vandal” in the heart of the ancient city.

Ousmane Halle, the mayor of Timbuktu, said almost all of the city’s 300 Christians had fled after Ag Ghaly announced that Sharia law would be enforced.

He told local radio that women should be covered at all times, warned thieves they would have their hands cut off and adulterers they would be stoned.

His faction, named Ansar al-Din, and its al-Qaeda allies won control of the urban centres of northern Mali after a regional uprising in the wake of a military coup that deposed the country’s elected government.

While another faction of the Tuareg rebellion, the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) announced a ceasefire yesterday in response to international appeals, the extremists consolidated their grip on key cities.

Algeria said its consulate in Gao, another town under Ansar al-Din’s control, had been overrun. The consul and six staff had been taken hostage.

“The Algerian government is doing everything possible to ensure they are freed as quickly as possible,” said Mourad Medelci, Algeria’s foreign minister said.

While international concern has continued to focus on the restoration of democracy, fears that al-Qaeda had gained a safe haven in the nomadic north have emerged with the fall of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.  (more >>>)

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