The jihadis carried out amputations in the sandy square where the residents of Gao used to watch basketball. The men who ruled Gao for nine months, until French and Malian troops drove them out last weekend, replaced the words "Place de l'Indépendence" in the green, red and yellow of the national flag with simple white on black: Place de la Sharia.
A thief would lose his right hand. Those accused of burglary would lose both right hand and left foot. On 21 December last year, people were assembled, as they had been several times before, and told to watch.
"No one was allowed to speak," said Issa Alzouma. "Then they cut off my hand with a knife."
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