Mali says over 200 fighters killed in military operation | News

The military called for “restraint from defamatory speculations” after several social media posts said civilians had been killed in the operation.

Mali’s military said it had killed 203 militants in an operation in the central Sahel state, while the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country said it had heard reports of civilian deaths. , raising concerns about human rights.

The military said on Friday that the military operation took place in the Mora region of central Mali from March 23 to 31. The army arrested 51 people and seized a large amount of weapons, according to a statement by the army. army.

The announcement comes as multiple social media reports in Mali this week allege that dozens of people, including civilians, have been killed in Mora.

AFP news agency was unable to verify the military’s claimed death toll or social media reports.

Mali’s poor access to conflict zones and relative lack of independent sources mean that figures provided by governments or armed groups are difficult to confirm.

“The Malian army released a statement after rumors circulated on social media that 300 civilians had been killed in the village of Mora, which it described as a ‘terror fief’. They say they have neutralized more than 300 ‘terrorists’, said Nicholas Haque of Al Jazeera, reporting from Dakar in neighboring Senegal.

Haque said the Malian state believes the area is controlled by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS). So there was a push to regain control of the region.

“But the challenge is that nobody really knows what’s going on, there’s very little access to the area where these activities are taking place. Several foreign journalists have been kicked out of the country for covering what is happening in Mali. “

‘Allegations of extrajudicial torture and murder’

A impoverished country of about 21 million people, Mali has struggled to contain an armed insurgency that emerged in 2012, before spreading to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Much of the country is controlled by numerous rebel and militia groups, and thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the conflict.

Mali’s ill-equipped military is also often accused of abusive behavior during the conflict.

According to a report seen by AFP, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently warned the Security Council that Mali’s counter-terrorism efforts have had “harmful consequences for civilians”.

In its statement on Friday, Mali’s military said it was guided by human rights and international law, and called for “restraint from defamatory speculations”.

“This follows a report by Human Rights Watch on allegations of torture and killing of civilians by Malian troops and non-French speaking ‘white soldiers’, suggesting that perhaps the fighters Russia participated in the torture and murder.” Al Jazeera’s Haque said.

“This puts the UN operation, the largest and most expensive operation in its history, into a bit of a predicament. Many people at the UN feel uncomfortable.”

The country has seen a clear increase in violence in recent weeks. On Friday, the United Nations said thousands of people fleeing fighting in Mali had arrived in Niger.

A day earlier, the United Nations peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA, said security had “significantly deteriorated” in the border area with Burkina Faso and Niger.

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