Mali: separatists accuse the army and Wagner of the deaths of 11 civilians

Mali: separatists accuse the army and Wagner of the deaths of 11 civilians
Mali: separatists accuse the army and Wagner of the deaths of 11 civilians

An alliance of separatist rebel groups fighting the Bamako government on Saturday accused the Malian army and the Russian paramilitary group Wagner of killing eleven civilians this week in the north of the country.

Malian authorities did not respond to a request for comment from AFP on these accusations made in a press release by the Permanent Strategic Framework for the Defense of the People of Azawad (CSP-DPA), an alliance of armed separatist groups predominantly Tuareg.

“On Wednesday May 15, 2024, the village of Tassik in the Kidal region, around 10 a.m., was targeted by a patrol of mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group and the Malian army, who committed serious violations against the population,” according to this press release. The patrol ransacked several stores and vehicles, and their goods were “loaded into trucks chartered for this purpose.” At least four vehicles were swept away.

“The CSP-DPA unreservedly condemns these terrorist operations planned with the aim of carrying out targeted ethnic cleansing and an accelerated depopulation of the territory of Azawad of its indigenous people,” the separatist alliance declared.

Azawad is the name of the territory claimed by the separatists in northern Mali. Armed separatist groups lost control of several localities in the North at the end of 2023 after an offensive by the Malian army which culminated in the capture of Kidal, a bastion of independence demands and a major sovereignty issue for the central state.

The offensive in the north of the country has given rise to numerous allegations of abuses committed against the civilian population by Malian forces and their Russian allies since 2022, which the Malian authorities deny.

Mali, a poor and landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, has been plunged into a multifaceted crisis since the outbreak, in 2012, of independence and jihadist insurgencies in the north. The military seized power in a coup in 2020 and broke off their military partnership with France, a former colonial power, to turn to Russia.

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