Islamists in control of a town in northern Mali stoned a couple to death after accusing them of having children outside of marriage, a local official who was one of several hundred witnesses to the killings said Monday.
The official said the bearded Islamists, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, brought the couple into the center of the town of Aguelhok from about 12 miles away in the countryside. The young man and woman were forced into holes about four feet deep, with their heads protruding, and then stoned to death at about 5 a.m. Sunday, the official said.
“They put them into the holes, and then they started throwing big rocks, until they were dead,” the official said, speaking by satellite phone from the remote desert town near the Algerian border.
“It was horrible,” he said, noting that the woman had moaned and cried out and that her partner had yelled something indistinct during the attack. “It was inhuman. They killed them like they were animals.”
The official insisted that he not to be identified because he said “our lives are in danger here.” The official said many of the 2,000 people in Aguelhok had already begun leaving, crossing the border into Algeria, as a result of Sunday’s stoning.
The stoning was the Islamists’ most brutal reported act of repression so far. Refugees from the north have given numerous accounts of public whippings and beatings for alleged violations of Sharia law in the main towns of Timbuktu and Gao.
The official in Aguelhok said the rural couple were heard to protest, faintly, that the children — the youngest a baby of 6 months — were not even theirs. But the men who executed them said the couple had been guilty of a serious crime, and deserved punishment.
“All they said was, it was the law of Sharia that prescribed it, that God willed it,” the official recalled. He said the execution had lasted about 15 minutes, but the woman died quickly, after crying out.
In silence, more than 300 people from the town watched. “The people protested, that no law could possibly prescribe such a thing,” the official said. “On the slightest pretext, they execute people.”
Aguelhok drew notoriety early in the rebellion, in January, as the place where dozens of Malian Army soldiers were apparently summarily executed, according to human rights groups. Some had their hands tied behind their backs and their throats cut.
A protest over the executions by angry soldiers’ wives in the capital, Bamako, in early February was an early sign that the government was in trouble. The government was later brought down by a military junta in a coup d’état at the end of March, allowing the Tuaregs and Islamists to overrun the north.
Where is the outrage in the news coverage over crimes being committed by these radical, Islamist thugs? Where is the condemnation from the White House? Where is the president’s Atrocities Prevention Board pushing the agenda of the Responsibility to Protect?