Over 500 Civilians Killed in Mali as Military Junta Loses Grip

Over 500 Persons Killed Between January and March 2022 in Mali as Military Junta Loses Grip (News Central TV)

Over 500 civilians were killed in attacks carried out by armed forces and militant groups in Mali from January to March this year, according to a UN report released on Monday, detailing a rapid deterioration of an already desperate security situation.

The killings represented a 324 percent increase over the previous quarter and highlighted Mali’s military junta’s failure to limit human rights abuses or prevent groups linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State from carrying out violent campaigns.

They come as Mali severes ties with former colonial power France and the Wagner Group, a Russian private military contractor, steps in to assist in the defeat of militants who have carried out attacks in the country’s center and north for nearly a decade.

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“Malian Armed Forces, supported on certain occasions by foreign military elements, increased military operations to combat terrorism … some of which sometimes ended in serious allegations of violations of human rights,” the U.N.’s Malian mission, known as MINUSMA, said in the report.

Western powers were outraged by Wagner’s intervention, warning that it could incite violence in Mali and neighboring countries where communities are suffering from drought, malnutrition, and poverty.

MINUSMA documented 320 human rights violations committed by the Malian military between January and March, up from 31 in the previous three months.

The most notable incident occurred in the town of Moura, where witnesses and rights groups claim that the Malian army, accompanied by white fighters, killed scores of civilians suspected of being militants.

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“In addition to summary executions, security forces also allegedly raped, looted, arrested and arbitrarily detained many civilians during the military operation,” MINUSMA said.

MINUSMA is investigating but has been denied access to the town. MINUSMA stated that its request will be considered only after the government has completed its own investigation.

Mali has been wracked by violence since jihadists took over the north in 2012. France defeated them, but by 2015, they had regrouped and launched a wave of attacks in the center of the country. Since then, they have spread into Niger and Burkina Faso, raising fears of regional instability.

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