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Mali: the army and the Wagner group accused of having committed a massacre

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This Monday, April 4, France declared itself “seriously concerned” by possible abuses committed in Mali by Malian soldiers allied with mercenaries from the private Russian group Wagner.

The Malian army claimed, in a press release published on April 1, to have killed “203 combatants” of “armed terrorist groups” during an operation carried out from March 23 to 31 “in the Moura area 17 kilometers to the north -east of Kouakjourou in the circle of Djenné”.

The staff immediately invited “the populations to exercise restraint against defamatory speculation against” the Malian armed forces.

But their version of the facts is unanimously disputed internationally, especially since no assessment could be verified by Agence France-Presse.

Unanimous reactions

In a statement, the Quai d’Orsay is concerned about the death of “hundreds of civilians” during these “massive abuses”. The latter intervene, moreover, in a context where the French anti-jihadist forces Barkhane are gradually leaving the country.

French diplomacy thus calls for “the rapid opening of investigations to bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice”. She stresses that “the fight against terrorist groups operating in the Sahel can in no way justify violations of human rights”.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, stressed the importance of shedding light on the conditions of these anti-terrorist operations, describing as “disturbing” the “testimonies on the deaths of hundreds of people”.

Clashes denounced by NGOs

Since the beginning of 2022, Mali has been the scene of a “multiplication of atrocities”, still worries the Quai d’Orsay, carried out with complete impunity.

Jihadist violence has killed dozens of civilians in recent weeks in central-eastern Mali. At the same time, NGOs and ex-rebels incriminate the Malian armed forces for alleged abuses.

The high representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, considered it “essential that the Minusma (UN mission, editor’s note) can have access” to the elements necessary to “support the transitional authorities in their investigation”.

“The exemplary behavior of the State and its security forces, whose primary mandate is to protect civilian populations, cannot suffer from any exceptions,” he concluded.

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