Mali-Mauritania spat: UN experts blame Malian and ‘white’ soldiers for 33 civilian deaths

Mali-Mauritania spat: UN experts blame Malian and ‘white’ soldiers for 33 civilian deaths

The Malian army and “white soldiers“ were involved in the killing of 33 of civilians, in Mali according to a report by United Nations experts.

The disappearance of these civilians on March 5 in Robinet El Ataye, in the Segou region near the Mauritanian border, had caused a stir in Mali and Mauritania. Mauritania accused the Malian army of “recurrent criminal acts” against Mauritanian citizens in this border region. Bamako had said that nothing implicated its army. The two countries had launched a joint investigation, the results of which had not been published to date.

The „white soldiers” are believed to be part of the paramilitary group Wagner, which has been deployed alongside the Malian military since January, according to a New York-based diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Bamako has repeatedly denied the presence of mercenaries, referring to the presence of “instructors”, while Moscow says it has nothing to do with this company present in Mali on a “commercial basis“.

On 5 March, “a group of FAMas”, the Malian Armed Forces, “took away 33 men, 29 Mauritanians and four Malians (Tuareg)“ from the village. After the departure of the soldiers, the local women waited for the return of the men but it was in vain. The next day, relatives discovered the bodies four kilometers from Robinet El-Ataye, explain the UN experts. “They had been shot and then burned,” the text of the report concludes.

The Malian army has conducted numerous military operations to “hunt down” jihadist groups in the Segou and Mopti regions of central Mali since the beginning of the year. Its soldiers have been accused of abuse on several occasions by NGOs.

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