BAMAKO - Residents in the northern Malian town of Gao on Saturday lynched a prominent Islamist leader in retaliation for the killing of a local journalist earlier in the day, residents and the office of Mali's president said.
Residents in Gao, a northern Malian town under Islamist rebel control since mid-2012, have previously protested against the strict imposition of Islamic law but, if confirmed, the lynching would be a first of a fighter by civilians.
The incident comes after over a week of French air strikes on Islamist positions sought to break the grip of al-Qaida-linked fighters on northern Mali.
Gao journalist Kader Toure was killed for having been suspected of working with foreign radio stations, according to Issa Idrissa Toure, a former colleague.
"Islamic police commissioner Aliou Toure was killed by the youth in revenge," Mazou Toure, a Gao resident added.
Telephone networks in Gao are not working but both sources said they received the information from people who had travelled outside the town.