Mali Authorities Arrest Islamist Leader Who Ordered Amputations

Malian authorities arrested a former Islamic police commissioner who ordered limb amputations in the northern city of Gao when it was occupied by al-Qaeda-linked rebels last year.

Aliou Toure was captured yesterday by the nation’s security forces, defense ministry spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone said in a phone interview today from the capital, Bamako. As a senior member of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, or Mujwa, Toure was responsible for the implementation of Islamic Shariah law in Gao before the city was liberated earlier this year.

“He is now in custody and justice has already started to work on the case,” Kone said. “We thank the population for its help and cooperation with the army.”

Mujwa, which is allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, is one of three Islamist groups that took control of much of northern Mali last year before being forced to retreat by French, Malian and African Union forces in January. The Islamist rebels and ethnic Touareg separatists captured the territory after a coup in Bamako by soldiers who said they didn’t have enough weapons and equipment to fight the insurgents.

At least nine people had their feet or hands amputated during the Islamist occupation of Gao, according to Moulaye Djitteye, director of the city’s hospital.

“Aliou Toure was a very important person under the Mujwa regime in Gao,” Djitteye said in a phone interview. “If this arrest is true, we are more than happy.”

Gao, situated about 1,100 kilometers (684 miles) north of Bamako, currently serves as a base for French forces in Mali. About 12,600 African Union peacekeepers are being deployed in the north of the country.

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