Islamist militants who control northern Mali have publicly executed a man accused of murder.
In an interview with VOA, a spokesman for the militant group Ansar Dine said the man, a Malian Tuareg, was killed by firing squad in Timbuktu late on Tuesday.
The spokesman, Sanda Ould Bouamama, says Ansar Dine was acting in line with Islamic law.
“We judged him,” he said. “The family of the victim asked for him to be executed, which was their right under Sharia law, and it was done.”
Bouamama says the man had admitted to killing another man over a small dispute, and had turned himself in voluntarily to face judgment. There has been no independent confirmation of the spokesman’s account.
A witness to the execution told VOA’s French to Africa service that the man was put on his knees and shot in front of his family and the family of his alleged victim.
This is the second public execution carried out by Ansar Dine, one of three main groups seeking to impose a strict version of Islamic law in northern Mali.
The group previously stoned a couple to death after accusing them of adultery.
Human rights groups and the U.N. Security Council have demanded the militants stop handing out severe punishments that have also included public floggings and amputations.
The United Nations Security Council is considering a West African plan to send troops to Mali and help the country’s interim government retake the north.
Ansar Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad, and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb seized control of the region in the confusion that followed a March 22 coup in Mali’s capital, Bamako.