the UN accuses soldiers and jihadists of abuses and massacres

the UN accuses soldiers and jihadists of abuses and massacres

Malian soldiers and jihadist groups were guilty of new human rights violations in Mali, including massacres and abuses against civilians, between July and September, according to a UN document consulted Thursday by AFP.

This quarterly note from the UN Mission in Mali (Minusma) reports 375 human rights violations recorded in the country in the third quarter: 163 attributed to jihadist groups operating in Mali, 162 to the Malian army, 33 to militias and other armed community self-defense groups and 17 to armed groups that signed the 2015 agreement for peace in northern Mali.

The document of the Minusma lifts the veil on several deadly episodes passed so far in silence given the difficulties of access to the field.

Thus, in central Mali where the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) have been carrying out a large-scale operation since the beginning of the year, often accompanied by “foreign military personnel”, 14 bodies were found dead with their hands tied in Gassel, and 43 people were killed in Gouni, all civilians, writes the UN.

The Malian army has already been accused in the past of large-scale massacres of civilians, in Moura and Hombori in particular.

The abuses attributed to jihadist groups – some affiliated with Al-Qaeda, another with the Islamic State group – almost all took place in north-eastern Mali (Gao and Ménaka regions) where fighting has frequently opposed them since March.

“On July 16, at least six people including a woman were killed, three kidnapped and two others injured” in the region of Ségou “by presumed Jnim elements” (Arabic acronym for the Support Group for Islam and Muslims ), writes the UN, attributing to “these same elements” the death of “nine people (eight men and one woman)” killed 7 days later during an attack on the village of Bobosso, in the Bandiagara region.

The presumed presence of auxiliaries from the Russian mercenary group Wagner alongside the FAMa has been widely criticized by human rights NGOs and Mali’s international partners, without Bamako officially recognizing it.

– Raped women and disappearances –

In its note, the UN extensively mentions the presence of this “foreign military personnel”, but also of traditional dozo hunters, alongside the Malian soldiers.

According to the document, on September 12, the population of Gassel (a village in the Douentza region) discovered the bodies of 14 people not far from the village “with their hands tied behind their backs” a few hours after their arrest by the army and “foreign military personnel”. The military junta in power in Bamako denies any military operation in Gassel, according to the UN.

Five days later, in Gouni, “foreign military personnel accompanied by traditional hunters” killed “fifty people, including 43 formally identified”, write the United Nations, according to which the Bamako authorities have opened an investigation into this tragedy.

The note mentions 12 women raped in early September in Tandiama and Nia Ouro (Mopti region) as part of a military operation involving the army, “foreign military personnel” and traditional hunters.

Five people from Nia Ouro, including the village chief and the imam, have also been missing since this operation after being taken to the nearby military camp, says the UN, which notes the opening of an investigation by Bamako.

This report is in addition to others published by the UN or by independent experts commissioned by the UN reporting abuses by the Malian army during operations carried out with its “foreign” auxiliaries.

The junta ensures to systematically open investigations if necessary. But the results of these investigations have almost never been made public.

Relations between the Malian authorities – dominated since 2020 by the military – and its partners, in particular the UN, have been strained in recent months.

After pushing the former French ally out in early 2022, the junta orally attacked Minusma several times, whose mandate was renewed in June for one year.

Mali had on this occasion expressed a “firm opposition” to the freedom of movement of blue helmets for investigations into possible violations of human rights.