By NICK ENOCH
PUBLISHED: 07:49 EST, 31 July 2012 | UPDATED: 08:17 EST, 31 July 2012
- Amnesty condemns gruesome killing by Islamists
The young pair were publicly executed in the remote town of Aguelhok in Mali. Pictured, the type and size of rock that would have been used to stone them to death
A couple accused of engaging in extramarital affairs have been stoned to death by an Islamic militant group in control of northern Mali.
The young pair were publicly executed in the remote town of Aguelhok, near the vast West African nation’s northern border with Algeria, on Sunday, a spokesman for the Ansar Dine (‘defenders of the faith’) group said.
‘These two people were married and had extra-conjugal relations.
‘Our men on the ground in Aguelhok applied sharia [Islamic law],’ Sanda Ould Bounama said on Monday.
‘They both died right away and even asked for this application.
‘We don’t have to answer to anyone over the application of sharia,’ he said.
Most people living in northern Mali have long practised Islam, but frustrations with the strict form of sharia being imposed by Islamists have sparked several protests in recent months.
Ansar Dine and well-armed allies, including Al Qaeda splinter group Mujwa, have hijacked a separatist uprising by local Tuareg rebels and now control two-thirds of north Mali’s desert – including Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu.
Western and African governments are struggling to muster a response to the crisis as politicians in the capital Bamako continue to squabble over how the country should be governed after a March coup removed the country’s president.
Amnesty International’s Deputy Africa Director Paule Rigaud said: ‘Amnesty condemns this gruesome and horrific act of stoning.
Most people living in northern Mali have long practised Islam, but frustrations with the strict form of sharia being imposed by Islamists have sparked several protests in recent months
‘This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants who control the north of Mali, and illustrates the climate of fear that armed opposition groups have created within the areas they control.
‘Amnesty International has documented incidences of abuses carried out by armed groups in Mali on people to change their behaviour in accordance with their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
‘The new behaviours being enforced include dress codes for both women and men, the banning of all music except religious music and forbidding of people of opposite sexes if unmarried to sit next to each other on a bus or to walk the streets together.
‘The imposition of these new behaviours has been accompanied by intimidation and physical violence including deliberate and arbitrary killings.‘