Celebration Turns to Retaliation Against Collaborators in Malian City of Gao
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GWEN IFILL: We return again to the West African nation of Mali, as jubilation gives way to retribution in the newly liberated city Gao.
Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News has an on-the-ground report. But be advised, some of the images may be disturbing.
LINDSEY HILSUM: The soldiers got him before he was attacked. Just as well. Vigilantes had already beaten up this man before the military rescued him. In Gao, those said to have cooperated with MUJAO, the Movement for Jihad and Unity, who ruled this city for nine months, are in acute danger now.
ABDUL KARIM SAMBA, Mali: They’re from MUJAO. They’re the Islamists who have gone into their homes to hide. So, we have been rounding them up to hand them over to the military.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Days of joy emerging into days of vengeance. On Saturday, as Malian soldiers entered the town, a jihadi fired into the crowd. The pictures are too graphic to show. He was lynched, torn limb from limb, left mutilated and dead.
Today, we saw one of the jihadi’s weapons clashes. The people of Gao are full of anger about the men who used their town as a base for their war against all things Western. And there’s no one here to stop them taking revenge.
We took a short tour of the destruction of Gao. Goats patrol the banks the jihadis looted and then blew up. No one is dancing at the nightclub they destroyed with rocket-propelled grenades or praying at the Catholic church which they scaled to pull down the cross. Rebuilding may be easier than repairing the damage done to people’s lives and minds.
In Timbuktu today, people came out to see how the jihadis destroyed the past, as well as the present, burning the famous 17th century Islamic manuscript kept in the museum.
MAN: They’re the heart and soul of Timbuktu’s people. When they hurt them, they hurt the people of Timbuktu. Everyone was crying.
LINDSEY HILSUM: African troops are readying to keep the peace after the French have stabilized Mali’s northern city. Stopping revenge attacks against those accused of collaborating with the jihadis may be one of their hardest tasks.