BAMAKO, Mali -- A spokesman for one of the radical Islamist groups controlling northern Mali says their fighters have cut off a thief's hand in the former tourist hotspot of Timbuktu.

Oumar Ould Hamaha told The Associated Press the robber had been caught after breaking into a store, from where he had stolen merchandise worth $2,000. His hand was cut off Sunday afternoon.

It was at least the seventh amputation carried out by the Islamists since they seized control of the territory in April. It comes after last Monday's gruesome double amputation of five highway robbers in the northern city of Gao. According to the strict form of Shariah practiced by the rebels, armed robbery requires the cutting off of both a hand and a foot.

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