At least 14 people suspected of thievery have had hands, and sometimes their feet, lopped off, Human Rights Watch and other independent observers say. Dozens of other people have been flogged with whips or tree branches for minor infractions such as smoking or listening to music on the radio, they say.
The New York Times reported Friday one police chief amputated the hand of his brother in carrying out prescribed punishments.
The Times after Moctar Toure, who was accused of stealing guns, was tied to a chair and blindfolded, a doctor gave him a shot and Toure's brother administered his punishment with a type of knife commonly used on sheep.
"I myself cut off my brother's hand," Aliou Toure, a police chief in northern Mali said. "We had no choice but to practice the justice of God."
The U.N. Security Council last week approved military intervention to retake the northern region from the Islamist extremists.