(AP) BAMAKO, Mali - Witnesses say that a man accused of rape in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu received 100 lashes, as the Islamists controlling the city continue to mete out punishments under Shariah law.
The witnesses say the man, identified as a Burkina Faso citizen named Boubacar El-Bourkinabiyoune, was brought into Timbuktu's public square on Friday morning. Resident Aboubacrine Yattara said the 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.
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.
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.