In Mali, nearly 600 civilians were killed in 2021

A member of the Malian army special forces in Kati, near Bamako, in January 2022.

Nearly 600 civilians were killed in Mali in 2021 in violence attributed mainly to jihadist groups, but also to self-defense militias and the armed forces, indicates Thursday March 24 a document from the UN mission in the country (Minusma ).

Plunged into turmoil since 2012, Mali has seen in the last six months of 2021 a 16% increase in the number of people killed compared to the first six months, says a note from the Minusma human rights division specifically in the second half of last year.

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Specifically, 318 people died in the violence during the second half of the year, according to the document. The figure was 266 in the first half, he recalls. Kidnappings, meanwhile, fell from 425 to 343 from one semester to the next.

Of the 584 civilians killed in 2021, the Minusma attributes the death of more than half of them (331) to radical Islamist groups, that of 122 others to proclaimed community self-defense groups, according to a count made by AFP from three different Minusma reports for 2021.

The center, “epicenter of violence”

Sixty-seven civilians were killed during Malian security force operations, according to this count, including a number of victims of summary or arbitrary executions. “The Malian armed forces arbitrarily executed at least seven civilians [six hommes et un garçon de 8 ans] and shot and killed another man” on October 25 in the region of N’Dola (center), specifies the document relating to the second half.

The Malian authorities categorically refute the accusations of abuse. Minusma blames regional and international forces, including French forces, for the death of 50 people in 2021, including 5 in the second half. French and African forces operate in Mali.

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The center of the country “remained the epicenter of the violence”, underlines the Minusma. More than two-thirds of all human rights violations were recorded there, particularly in the region of Ségou and the circle of Niono.

“Whole sections of the territory of the circle of Niono are under the control of the JNIM”, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM, or JNIM in Arabic), affiliated with Al-Qaida, specifies the Minusma. The GSIM “and other similar groups have increased attacks against civilians” and the Malian forces as well as the Minusma in the second half, mentions the UN organization.

The Dan Nan Ambassagou Dogon militia

Mali is also prey to the actions of groups affiliated with the Islamic State organization. These groups have “carried out indiscriminate attacks against civilians in several localities in the center and south of the country, with the aim of spreading terror and sometimes forcing the populations to leave”notes the Minusma. “They attacked civilians in retaliation for the military operations carried out by the Malian armed forces and international forces and/or for their supposed collaboration with the latter”she points out.

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They imposed their rules such as the wearing of beards for men, that of the full veil for women as well as the forced and early marriages of girls in several localities. They set fire to fields and crops in villages that refused to submit.

As for self-defence groups, including the Dogon Dan Nan Ambassagou militia, “losing influence” in the center they “attacked civilians suspected of collusion” with GSIM and other radical groups. Dan Nan Ambassagou has led several retaliatory attacks against villages that have established non-aggression pacts with jihadists, according to Minusma.

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The World with AFP

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