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Mali army, foreign fighters executed 500 in March 2022: UN report

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The Malian army and foreign fighters killed at least 500 people during an anti-jihadist operation in central Mali in March 2022, according to a report released on Friday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The OHCHR “has reasonable grounds to believe that at least 500 people were killed in violation of norms, standards, rules and/or principles of international law” between March 27 and 31, 2022, in the town of Moura, the report said.


The victims, including some 20 women and seven children, were “executed by the FAMa (Malian Armed Forces) and foreign military personnel” who had complete control over the area, said the report, which was based on an investigation by the human rights division of the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA.

OHCHR also has “reasonable grounds to believe that 58 women and girls were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence,” it said.

It said acts of torture had been carried out on people who had been arrested.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk called the findings “extremely disturbing”.

“Summary executions, rape and torture during armed conflict amount to war crimes and could, depending on the circumstances, amount to crimes against humanity,” he said in a statement.

The report does not explicitly say who the foreign fighters were.

However, it cites Malian official statements on Russian “instructors” helping in the fight against jihadists.

It also cites comments attributed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the presence of the private Russian security company Wagner in Mali.

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The report cites local testimony, collected by UN investigators, describing the foreigners as white men in fatigues speaking an “unknown” language — indicating they were not speaking French, the official language, or English.

Witnesses said the foreign soldiers “supervised” the operations, according to the report.


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