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Mali: army and "foreign" fighters executed 500 people in 2022 in Moura (UN)

Soldiers sit guard on the tarmac of the international airport, where ...   -  
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Rebecca Blackwell/AP


The United Nations on Friday accused the Malian army and "foreign" fighters of executing at least 500 people in March 2022 during an anti-jihadist operation in the center of the country, in a damning report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Office of the High Commissioner "has reasonable grounds to believe" that at least 500 people, including some 20 women and seven children, were "executed by the Malian Armed Forces and foreign military personnel (...) after the area (had) been totally subdued" between March 27 and 31, 2022 in Moura, said the report, which was compiled from an investigation by the human rights division of the peacekeeping mission deployed since 2013 in Mali (Minusma).

The OHCHR also has "reasonable grounds to believe that 58 women and girls were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence. It reports acts of torture of those arrested.

These acts could constitute war crimes and, "depending on the circumstances," crimes against humanity, said Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement.

The report does not explicitly identify "foreigners. But it recalls official Malian statements on the assistance of Russian "instructors" in the fight against jihadists and the words attributed to the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov on the presence in Mali of the private Russian security company Wagner.

The U.N. reports testimony gathered by its investigators describing these foreigners as white men in fatigues speaking an "unknown" language.

As documented in the report, the events in Moura, which have been the subject of conflicting versions for the past year, are among the worst of their kind in a country familiar with atrocities by jihadists and other armed groups since 2012.

The report is the most damning document produced against Malian forces, who have been accused of multiple acts in the past.

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