MOPTI, MALI, 19 JUNE 2018 – Soldiers in Mali killed at least 25 civilians in Mopti, a central region of Mali, according to allegations Tuesday by residents and a civil society organization.
The victims were apparently targeted and killed last week when Malian soldiers launched a counterterror operation against insurgents linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic state group.
The government of Mali promised Tuesday to investigate the allegations, confirming that residents had discovered three mass graves about 7km from the village of Nantaka.
We reiterate our “determination and strong will to fight against impunity and to engage the Malian army in the strict respect of the convention of human rights and international humanitarian rights in the conduct of operations,” said Mali’s defense minister, Tiena Coulibaly, in a statement.
The soldiers who invaded Nantaka last June 13 allegedly killed and buried the victims, according to Ibrahim Thiokari of Tabital Pulaku, a Fulani association.
The majority of the civilians killed in counterterror operations have been Fulani, some of whom are believed to have been recruited into the Al-Qaeda linked jihadi groups which control large swathes of desert in northern Mali.
“The government has to follow up with the investigations and ensure those involved are held to account, and that the family members know about it,” said Corine Dufka, associate director of West Africa for Human Rights Watch. “The fact that these incidents keep happening suggests very clearly that security force members feel they can act with impunity,” Dufka added.
Dufka told reporters that t she has tallied the bodies of 60 people in at least seven common graves after such operations in 2017 and this year. Her organization has also reported “disappearances”.