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UN experts: Malian military and ‘white’ soldiers killed 33


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UN experts say in a new report that Malian armed forces allegedly carried out an operation with “white soldiers” near the border with Mauritania in March, shot and burned alive at least 33 civilians during one of the campaigns the country ruled. The military seems to work closely with Russian mercenaries.

In the first three months of this year, they said 543 civilians were killed and 269 injured, according to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali.

In a sobering and wide-ranging report obtained by the Associated Press on Friday, the panel of experts said the political situation remained tense and warned that the 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and Non-radical armed independent groups “are threatened by the potential danger of confrontation between the parties for the first time since July 2017.”

They said 12 million people need humanitarian assistance, up sharply from 5.9 million last year, of which 1.9 million are at risk of “acute malnutrition” during the current lean season. lasts until August.

Mali has struggled to contain a radical Islamist insurgency since 2012. Radical rebels have been forced to relinquish power in Mali’s northern cities with the help of a campaign. military led by the French, but they regrouped in the desert and began to launch attacks on the Malian army and their allies. The insecurity has worsened with attacks on civilians and UN peacekeepers.

In August 2020, Malian President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita, who died in January, was ousted in a coup that included Assimi Goita, then an army colonel. Last June, Goita was sworn in as president of a transitional government after his second coup attempt in nine months and, later that year, reportedly decided to authorize the deployment of Russia’s Wagner group.

Wagner identifies themselves as a private military contractor but their long-trusted commitment to Russian interests has become apparent in Ukraine, where its mercenaries are among the current Russian forces. are fighting in the breakaway eastern regions of the country. In sub-Saharan Africa, Wagner has gained a significant foothold for Russia in the Central African Republic and Sudan as well as Mali, where analysts say its role goes beyond simply providing security services. .

The 78-page report by UN experts did not name Wagner involved in any of the incidents, but it did describe some of the activities Malian forces involved white soldiers in, including a on 5 March in the town of Robinet El Ataye in the Segou region near the border with Mauritania.

According to expert testimony, a group of “white soldiers” came to the town, where the wells were located, through which the Mauritania regularly crossed the border in search of pasture for livestock, rounding up men and children. brother, tie their hands behind their backs. turn their backs and blindfold them. Women and children were told to go home and soldiers reportedly stripped the homes of “all possessions including beds, cell phones, jewelry, cooking utensils and clothing,” they said. speak.

Late in the morning, the council said, Malian soldiers arriving in the village began beating the bound and blindfolded men “with heavy sticks used by herdsmen on their herds”.

The women heard screams but were stopped by soldiers from leaving their homes, and Malian forces later released some younger men and took away at least 33 men, 29 Mauritania and 4 Malians who are ethnic Tuaregs.

The women waited for the return of the men, but investigators said they were informed a day later by relatives that the men’s bodies had been found about 4 kilometers away, and they “were shot and then burned down,” experts said.

The panel said “a similar pattern of looting and beatings” occurred at five other locations, but the only place civilians were killed was at Robinet El Ataye.

“At two other locations visited by the Malian Armed Forces, a helicopter carrying “white soldiers” is believed to have landed at the start of the operation.”

On the political front, experts say the 2015 peace accord is stalling, no political and institutional reforms in the agreement have been finalized, a high-level decision-making meeting on the settlement quotas has been made. Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration for combatants were originally scheduled for February. The 9th of 2021 has yet to take place, and “a lack of trust can be seen between the government and the signed armed groups”.



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