London: Al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebels in Timbuktu were running prisons where women were locked up and lashed for being immodest, a report has revealed.
Residents in Timbuktu spoke for the first time of a rule of fear under Al Qaeda-linked Islamists, who had controlled the city until it was re-taken by French and Malian troops at the weekend.
One woman told French broadcaster TF1 how she was thrown into prison and given 15 lashes a day, for letting a veil over her head slip, revealing her hair underneath.
She showed the two square metre cell that she had to share with up to 14 other detainees.
According to the Daily Mail, the woman thanked ‘France for having freed them from the claws of the Islamists’.
Francois Hollande ordered a military intervention earlier this month to halt the rebels`` move southwards towards the capital, Bamako.
The report also revealed that precious 13th century manuscripts in Timbuktu were torched by the retreating Islamist rebels shortly before the northern Malian city was re-taken over the weekend.
In Timbuktu`s library, all that remained of precious 13th century texts were strewn on the floor, reduced forever to ashes, the paper said.
Other French broadcasters said some manuscripts might have been saved prior to Islamists` takeover of the city, it added.