BAMAKO — The first video evidence of amputations carried out by Islamic extremists occupying northern Mali was on Friday obtained by AFP.
The video secured by AFP from a Malian journalist in Bamako was shot by a local cameraman with the agreement of the jihadists, the day after the amputations under sharia (Islamic) law on five men accused of theft.
According to local sources, the amputations were carried out by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) which controls the city of Gao.
In the video, three young men are seen lying on beds. Their right hands and left feet have been chopped off and bandaged.
They hide their faces from the camera with their good hands or by turning their heads away.
“What we have inflicted on them is what God commanded us to do… God’s will has been carried out and the sins of these people have been erased,” says a Jihadist, calling himself Aliou Mahamar, “Islamic commissioner of Gao” in the local Songhai language.
Amputations were carried out on five men on Monday in Gao, a medical source there said earlier.
In the video, the jihadist is also seen talking to one of the amputees in a conversation punctuated with the words “God is Greatest” in Arabic.
“We prefer to be punished in this world and be absolved of our sins,” responds one of the victims, although it was not possible to see if his words had been dictated to him.
The man is then reduced to begging Gao’s new leaders for help.
Holding out his arm to the jihadist, he tells him: “You who are the leader, don’t forget us, we will need to eat during our convalescence.”
Islamists together with secular Tuareg rebels seized control of more than half of the country following a disastrous army coup in March in Bamako that led to political chaos and a collapsed military presence in the north.
The Islamists then chased out their one-time allies and have since imposed strict sharia law.
Army officers who staged the coup justified the action by saying President Amadou Toumani Toure had not been doing enough to fight a Tuareg separatist rebellion in the north.
The stoning to death of an unwed couple, amputations, whippings for “illegitimate” couples and people who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol have been among the harsh punishments meted out by the Islamists, who claim ties with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.