A report from the UN human rights office on the alleged death of at least 500 individuals by Malian soldiers and unidentified foreign fighters during an operation last year has been disputed by Mali’s temporary military administration.
The ruling junta was reacting to a report that was made public on Friday following a months-long inquiry into what rights organisations regarded as the biggest atrocity in a decade-long war between militias and the army.
“The transitional government vehemently denounces this biased report that is based on a fictitious narrative and does not meet established international standards,” government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga said in a statement on Saturday.
According to the report, on March 27 of last year, Malian soldiers and foreign personnel attacked the village of Moura from helicopters and started shooting at civilians as they fled. Hundreds more civilians were shot and dumped in ditches during a roundup in the days that followed, it claimed.
Maiga reiterated earlier claims that Insurgents rather than civilians were killed while claiming that a state probe into suspected human rights breaches during the operation was still ongoing.
“No civilian from Moura lost their life during the military operation. Among the dead, there were only terrorist fighters and all those arrested were handed over to the gendarmerie,” he said, stressing the authorities’ commitment to the protection of human rights.
The UN assessment was based on forensic analysis and satellite photos, as well as interviews with victims and witnesses in the West African nation. The UN fact-finding team requested access to the village of Moura itself, but the Malian authorities refused, according to the report.
According to Maiga, the authorities have launched a legal investigation into the fact-finding mission for allegedly failing to obtain authorisation before photographing Moura from space, which amounts to “a clandestine manoeuvre against the national security of Mali.”
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