BAMAKO, Mali (AP) - A man accused of rape in the Malian city of Timbuktu received 100 lashes on Friday morning, according to witnesses, as the radical Islamic group controlling the country's northern half continued their campaign of applying the extreme form of Islamic law known as Shariah.
The latest punishment comes on the heels of a visit to Mali by investigators from the International Criminal Court who are studying whether armed groups in the country have committed crimes against humanity.
The man who was whipped, identified as a Burkina Faso citizen named Boubacar El-Bourkinabiyoune, was brought into Timbuktu's public square on Friday morning, say witnesses. Islamists of the radical Ansar Dine group, which seized control of the city in April, explained that if the accused had been married, they would have stoned him to death, said resident Aboubacrine Yattara.
Contacted by telephone, a second witness Mohamed Toure confirmed that he had also seen the lashing.
Northern Mali fell into the hands of a mixture of Islamic groups in March and April, following a coup in the distant capital, Bamako, more than 700 miles away.
An estimated 30,000 people have fled the conflict in northern Mali and are desperately in need of food aid, according to Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
Amos spent two days in Mali and said that in addition to those who fled the north, there are 4.6 million people in the country who are affected by the current food shortages. She said the U.N. appealed for $213 million in relief aid, but less than half that amount has been provided.
"Without addition support, we are not going to reach everyone who needs help," said Amos.
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