Mali officials deny couple stoned by 'Islamists'

2017-05-29 20:32
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Bamako - A threat by radical Islamists in northeast Mali to punish an unmarried couple with death by stoning finally was not carried out, local officials told AFP on Monday.

Officials had told AFP on May 17 that the couple had been stoned to death in public the previous day in the Taghlit valley, in the remote Kidal region.

It would have been the first such incident since jihadist groups were driven out of the region in 2013 by a French-led military intervention.

The report was queried on social media but could not be checked independently as the area is difficult to access and a haven for smugglers, drug-traffickers and other criminal gangs and militia fighters.

"Finally they weren't lapidated," said a local official who asked not to be identified. "They were arrested and threatened and then some people pretended to lapidate them."

"There was no lapidation," he added. "People went to see but there was no stoning."

A Malian security source confirmed the report, saying the execution by stoning had been cancelled.

Last week, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a fusion of several jihadist groups with previous Al-Qaeda links, issued a statement denying any involvement in the stoning and questioning whether it ever took place.

Jihadists seized key northern cities in Mali in March 2012, and though they were driven out the next year, Islamist groups continue to make their presence felt with frequent attacks on domestic and foreign forces.

During their brief control of key towns in the vast north, jihadist groups imposed a version of Sharia law which forced women to wear veils and set whipping and stoning as punishment for transgressions.

Read more on:    al qaeda  |  mali  |  west africa

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