In Mali, the national army and jihadist groups are engaged in a ruthless struggle. The French Barkhane and European Takuba forces have announced that they are leaving the country, due to many disagreements with the transitional authorities. Fama and their new Russian allies are therefore on the front lines against ISGS, the Islamic State group in Greater Sahara and Jnim, the support group for Islam and Muslims, linked to al-Qaeda.
Since the end of December and the arrival of Russian auxiliary soldiers – mercenaries from the Wagner group, according to many Western countries; “instructors” invited as part of state-to-state cooperation, according to Bamako – the Malian army is increasing field operations and has impressive results. However, many sources – security forces, researchers and civil society organizations – consider these assessments very exaggerated and condemn abuses against civilians.
The RFI found a dozen direct victims of these abuses and collected their testimonies of the abuses perpetrated by the Malian army, in some cases involving Russian warriors. For security reasons, the anonymity of these witnesses is preserved, their names and voices have been changed – the dates and places concerned are deliberately not specified in too much detail. It is an exclusive series in two episodes. Today, a look back at operations carried out by the Malian army in the Ségou and Koulikouro regions.
Nara, Guiré, in the Koulikouro region; Nampala, Diabaly, Niono, in the region of Ségou: in this area near the Mauritanian border, Katiba Macina in Jnim exposes the inhabitants to daily terror. And even, in some cases, a form of blockade. The Malian army is therefore intensifying operations. But in the village of Yacouba Dicko, the arrival of Malian soldiers was not seen as a liberation.
“Too old to escape” “There were about 40 of them – three vehicles, some motorcycles and everything else on foot. There were many white people with them. Not Tuaregs, not Arabs, whites. They spoke a language to each other that I could not. It was not French. They wore very light military uniforms. They immediately started firing in all directions. Most of the inhabitants had fled into the bush for fear; I was hidden nearby and I watched, because relatives of mine, “too old to escape, had remained. They set fire to all the houses. The old ones that were left were shot or burned in their homes.”
Alassane Barry lives in another village with Fulani farmers and shepherds. Who was also visited by the Malian soldiers.
“They arrived around midnight. They surrounded the village, and it was early in the morning that they entered. Immediately they slammed the doors of the houses. They took out things, they arrested or killed several people. The Malian soldiers were accompanied by whites, who had clothes of a different color. There were more than thirty vehicles. The whites who were with the Malian soldiers took part in everything. They stole jewelry, money and even our stocks of fertilizer from the homes. They did not take the food from the village, but soon outside, they came across a young man selling his rice: they took everything from him and killed him. “
arrests and summary executions At the request of RFI, the Malian army did not want to comment on these testimonies.
Since the end of December, staff have claimed in their press releases 129 neutralized jihadists and several dozen arrests in the areas of Nara, Guiré, Diabaly and the townsambient. Weapons, motorcycles, cattle, grain or fertilizer are also among the announced catches. Mahmoud Sow exhumed the bodies from a mass grave discovered near his village.
“They were people who had been arrested a few days earlier in a market. People we know very well: a doctor, a deputy mayor, large cattle salesmen, including two Mauritanians … Well-known people in the area, who have nothing to do with the jihadists. Some “days after the arrest, someone discovered a grave. We went. We dug up several bodies, we recognized some of those arrested, we made individual graves for them.”
On March 2, a mass grave was discovered near Dogofry, with about thirty charred bodies. Many local sources accuse the Malian army, which has categorically denied, announced that an investigation has been launched and condemned accusations that “are likely to discredit the Fama”.