2022 – More than 500 killed in clashes in Mali as junta loses foothold By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Malian soldiers pose for a picture as they patrol with soldiers from the New Takoba Force near the border with Niger in Dansongo Circle, Mali, August 23, 2021. Photo: Paul Lorgerie/Reuters

DAKAR (Reuters) – More than 500 civilians were killed in attacks by armed forces and Islamist groups in Mali between January and March this year, the United Nations said in a report on Monday, describing a quick fix to an already desperate security situation. .

The killings represented a 324% increase from the previous quarter and underlined the failure of the Malian Military Council to curb human rights abuses or prevent groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State from launching violent campaigns.

The attacks come as Mali cut ties with France, a former colonial power, and the Wagner Group, a private Russian military company, steps in to help defeat militants who have been waging attacks in the center and north for nearly a decade.

The Malian army, which took power in a coup in 2020, did not respond to requests for comment. Wagner set not available.

The UN mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, said that “Malian forces, supported on certain occasions by foreign military elements, have intensified their anti-terror military operations…some have ended in serious allegations of human rights violations.” the report.

Western powers vehemently opposed Wagner’s intervention, warning that it could fuel violence in Mali and neighboring countries, as communities face mounting drought, malnutrition and poverty.

MINUSMA documented 320 human rights violations by the Malian army in the January-March period, compared to 31 in the previous three months.

The most notable case occurred in the town of Mora, where witnesses and rights groups said the Malian army, accompanied by white fighters, killed dozens of civilians they believed were militants.

“In addition to the summary executions, security forces are said to have raped, looted, detained and arbitrarily detained many civilians during the military operation,” the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali said.

MINUSMA is conducting an investigation but has been denied entry to the city. Minusma said his request will not be considered until the government conducts its own investigation.

Mali has been plagued by violence since 2012 when jihadists took control of the north. They were repulsed by France, but by 2015 they had regrouped and launched a wave of attacks in the middle. It has since spread to Niger and Burkina Faso, raising concerns about regional instability.