01/19/2013 20:14 GMT
BAMAKO, Jan 19, 2013 (AFP) - Residents of the Islamist-held northern Mali town of Gao on Saturday killed a local jihadist leader to avenge the murder of a journalist, officials said.
Sema Maiga, a deputy of the town's mayor, said the Islamists beat local journalist Kader Toure to death after accusing him of "working for the enemy", adding that residents then "killed an Islamist chief called Alioune Toure".
A local teacher, who gave his name only as Issa, confirmed the killing in a telephone text message, saying "The Islamists beat a radio journalist to death accusing him of diffusing anti-Islamic ideas.
"But the youths of Gao decided to punish the Islamist police. We lynched the head of the Islamist brigade. I hope the message has circulated. Fear has now changed sides and now the other camp is scared."
Gao, which is about 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) northeast of Bamako, has for nearly nine months been under the control of Islamist militants from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO) who imposed a harsh form of Islamic law that included the amputation of the hands of thieves.
They had briefly cut telecommunication links to the town to stop residents from passing information to advancing French and Malian troops.
French air strikes that began on January 11 to halt an Islamist advance have subsequently driven the insurgents from their strongholds in the north to take shelter in the vast desert territory.
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse