A Russian national on an operation with Malian soldiers in central Mali has been killed, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
It was the first confirmed death of a Russian in military operations in Mali since the ruling junta in Bamako called on what it described as "instructors" from Russia.
According to a security source, a detachment composed of Malian soldiers and "Russian instructors" was attacked with an improvised explosive device near the town of Hombori on Tuesday morning.
"We confirm that a Russian soldier died on Tuesday as a result of injuries sustained in Sevar. He was in his thirties. The vehicle carrying him and Malian soldiers hit a mine," a hospital source in the town told AFP.
"We have learned of the death of a Wagner agent who was fighting alongside the Malian army yesterday in the region of Mopti," said an elected Malian official in the centre of the country, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons. "The car that was carrying them blew up on a mine.
"I do not wish to confirm or deny the death of what [some call] a Russian mercenary from Wagner," said a Malian military source in Sévaré.
Unconfirmed reports by a security source have it that, the military detachment returned fire after coming under enemy fire and "18 attackers were neutralised".
In a Twitt, the UN mission in Mali said it was "concerned" by "allegations of human rights violations committed [on Tuesday during] the weekly market in Hombori, during an operation carried out by the Malian Armed Forces, who were allegedly accompanied by a group of foreign soldiers".
The UNMIS has however launched an investigation to verify the facts with the intention of visiting the scene shortly.