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Sunday, 16 June 2024
Mali rebels accuse army, Wagner of killing civilians

Mali rebels accuse army, Wagner of killing civilians

International Desk

An alliance of separatist rebel groups fighting Malian government forces on Saturday accused the army and Russian paramilitary group Wagner of killing 11 civilians earlier in the week.

The Malian authorities did not respond to a request for comment from AFP about the allegations posed in a statement from the Permanent Strategic Framework for the Defence of the People of Azawad (CSP-DPA), an alliance of predominantly Tuareg armed rebel groups.

The CSP-DPA said that on Wednesday, the village of Tassik in the northern Kidal region "was targeted by a patrol of mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group and the Malian army, who committed serious violations against the population".

The separatist alliance put the death toll at 11 civilians, whose bodies were discovered "burned", with two more civilians reported missing. It added that the patrol had ransacked several stores and vehicles.

"The CSP-DPA unreservedly condemns these terrorist operations programmed with the aim of carrying out a targeted ethnic cleansing and accelerated depopulation of the Azawad territory of its indigenous people," the statement said.

Azawad is the name of the territory claimed by separatists in northern Mali. Fighting between the separatists and Mali government troops broke out last August after eight years of calm, as both sides scrambled to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of United Nations peacekeepers (MINUSMA), ordered to leave by the ruling junta in Bamako.

The offensive in northern Mali has been marked by numerous allegations of abuses against civilians by Malian forces and, since 2022, their Russian allies, which the Malian authorities systematically deny.

Since seizing power in 2020, Mali's junta has broken ties with France and turned politically and militarily towards Russia.

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