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UN probe finds French strike in Mali in January killed 19 civilians

UN probe finds French strike in Mali in January killed 19 civilians
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A UN probe has linked France to the recent airstrike that killed 19 civilians gathered for a wedding in Mali. 

The report also refuted claims that Jihadists were linked to the attack that occurred in January.

The human rights division of the UN Mission in Mali together with the UN forensic experts had launched investigations to the attack near Bounti (central Mali) on 3 January and was "able to confirm that indeed there was a wedding ceremony that brought together around 100 civilians at the site of the strike, including five armed persons, presumed members of the Serma Katiba, according to the report.

The Katiba Serma is affiliated with the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM, or JNIM in Arabic), a jihadist alliance that is affiliated with al-Qaeda.

At least 22 people were killed, including three of the alleged members of Katiba Serma - 19 on the spot, 3 during their evacuation, the report reveals.

France confirmed that the bombing came after precise and verified intelligence, rejecting accusations of slaying wedding guests.

Paris claimed to have annihilated militants. French armed forces staff spoke of bombing a jihadist group by a fighter plane.

Villagers reported a helicopter strike in broad daylight that caused panic in a crowd that they said had gathered for a wedding.

Mali's government and the French army previously denied allegations that a French airstrike killed civilians attending the wedding.

France has more than 5,000 military personnel stationed in Mali and the Sahel to counter militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.