- Islamist group Ansar Dine said to have repeatedly warned girl to stop talking to men in the street in Timbuktu, Mali
PUBLISHED:07:55 EST, 17 October 2012| UPDATED:09:14 EST, 17 October 2012
A teenaged girl received 60 lashes in Timbuktu after Islamist extremists convicted her of speaking to men on the street.
The girl, believed to be 15 years old, was allegedly caught speaking with men by Ansar Dine, the militant Islamist group who control Timbuktu and much of northern Mali.
One resident claimed the girl was warned repeatedly by the Islamists to stop what she was doing, but persisted in talking to men in public.
Ousmane Maiga, a Timbuktu resident, said: ‘The Islamists said that the girl was warned five times by Islamist police but she continued to speak to men in the street.
‘After the hearing, the Islamists gave 60 lashes to the girl. The population did not turn out in large numbers to attend this flogging.’
The public whipping took place at around 11am local time in front of the new headquarters of the Islamic police in downtown Timbuktu, next to Independence Square.
Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) is the most prevalent of a number of Al-Qaeda-linked groups that have seized northern Mali after a power vacuum opened by a military coup in the south in March.
The groups have since been imposing Sharia law throughout the territory and intend on imposing the strict Islamic laws across Mali.
In an incident in July, a man was lashed 40 times by Ansar Dine after being accused of drinking alcohol.
– Ousmane Maiga, Timbuktu resident
‘A young man has just been lashed 40 times for drinking alcohol. The whipping took place in the Timbuktu market,’ a resident of Timbuktu told reporters.
The man was later treated in hospital for his injuries.
A man and woman accused of having a child out of wedlock were given 100 lashes each in Timbuktu on June 20.
Ansar Dine has also destroyed all the city’s bars.
The group also demolished many of the ancient city’s shrines to Muslim saints, as the jihadists believe they should not be seen as idols.
Another Islamist group, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), has burnt cigarettes, whipped smokers and forbidden people to play football or watch television in territories under its control, provoking violent protests in May in the northern city of Gao.
The Islamist movement in the north of the country was recently found to be recruiting and paying up to 1,000 children from rural towns to fight in their militia.