from RUDD KONTE in Bamako, Mali
BAMAKO, (CAJ News) – THE alleged killing of an estimated 300 men, including suspected Islamists, by Malian armed forces and foreign soldiers is the worst single atrocity reported in the decade-long conflict.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented the alleged executions in the central Malian town of Moura where a military operation began on March 27.
Over the course of several days , army forces and foreign soldiers reportedly executed in small groups several hundred people who had been rounded up in Moura.
“Abuses by armed Islamist groups is no justification at all for the military’s deliberate slaughter of people in custody,” said Corinne Dufka, Sahel director at HRW.
This was in response to a Malian defense ministry statement on April 1, statimg that from March 23 to 31, the army had killed 203 “terrorists” and arrested 51 more.
The statement disclosed the army had acted on intelligence suggesting that armed Islamists were planning a “meeting with different Katibats [battalions]” in Moura.
Dufka said, “The Malian government is responsible for this atrocity, the worst in Mali in a decade, whether carried about by Malian forces or associated foreign soldiers.”
HRW reported it gathered information from 27 people with knowledge of the killings.
These include witnesses from the Moura area and traders, community leaders, foreign diplomats and security analysts. Moura is a town of about 10 000 residents.
It is located in the Djenné administrative area.
Since 2015, it has been the epicentre of conflict-related violence, abuses and displacement.
– CAJ News