The Islamists who have seized control of Mali's desert north are growing increasingly brutal as they impose sharia on the region, even as they violate the strict Muslim law themselves, say fleeing residents.
“They are really getting more and more barbaric. They kill, they rape, and no one does anything to stop them,” a student named Oumar told AFP after arriving in the capital Bamako on Wednesday on a bus from the north-eastern town of Gao.
“They forced my sister into marriage, then a month later her husband divorced her. These barbarians get married to have a good time and when they're done, they throw the woman away,” he added.
“How can a man of God have six wives?” he asked - two wives more than the number allowed by the Qur’an. According to Oumar, women who have fled forced marriages with Islamist fighters have said the men do not wear condoms, which he said worried him because they were likely to spread Aids through the region.
Once considered one of Africa's most stable democracies, Mali has descended into chaos since a March 22 coup that overthrew the government of president Amadou Toumani Toure.
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