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the Malian army again accused of abuses

Aziz*’s voice shaking on the other end of the line. “This morning, the villagers were still burying bodies. They can no longer count them, there are so many of them,” is moved by this defender of human rights from central Mali. Between Sunday March 27 and Thursday March 31, Moura, a village in the Mopti region, was the target of an anti-terrorist operation carried out by the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) and white paramilitaries identified by local and international sources as belonging to the Russian private security group Wagner. Five days of blockade, the progress of which could be checked by The world from several security and humanitarian sources, Malian, West African and Western.

Among the crowd, armed men circulate in plain sight

Sunday March 27 is a fair day in Moura. The locality is renowned for the quality of its cattle market. In this last weekend before the start of Ramadan, the inhabitants of the surrounding villages flock in large numbers to buy sheep. Among the crowd, armed men circulate in plain sight. Moura is located in a wooded and flooded area that is difficult to access and has been controlled for years by jihadists from Katiba Macina, a group led by Fulani leader Hamadoun Koufa and a member of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM , affiliated with Al-Qaida).

The Malian army, which has continued to see this enemy progress since the outbreak of war in the north of the country in 2012, has decided to go on the offensive in Moura. The intervention, which mobilizes several dozen soldiers from the army, air force and special forces, is part of operation “Kélétigui” (“the one who makes war” in Bambara), launched end of 2021 in central and southern Mali by the FAMa accompanied by their Russian auxiliaries.

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“They did not distinguish between the jihadists or the others”

“Helicopters flew over the market shooting at those trying to flee. Meanwhile, the jihadists got rid of their weapons and melted into the crowd. Malian and Russian soldiers were landed on the ground and that was the beginning of the massacre, supports an African human rights defender. They rounded up the men, executed many of them, searched the houses to kill those who were hiding there. They did not distinguish between jihadists or others. »

In the market, between the houses and near a river, many bodies were found, some charred, others riddled with bullets. Mass graves were dug by the inhabitants themselves. No one can yet determine the number, identity or status – civilian or combatant – of the victims of these extrajudicial executions.

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