French Military Minister Florence Parly was heard Tuesday night by the National Assembly’s Defense Committee. The possibility of returning to the events in Bounti, where the French army is accused by some of having made civilian casualties during a strike against a terrorist group.
On December 3, the planes departed the French operation Barkhane bombed the Bounti site, in central Mali, neutralizes about thirty terrorists, according to the French General Staff and the Malian Ministry of Defense. Fulani cultural organization, Tabital Pulakuu, has meanwhile warned of the presence among the victims of civilians who had come to attend a wedding.
Accusations that Florence Parly described as “rumors” that played into the hands of the terrorists, especially RVIM, the demonstration for the victory of Islam and Muslims, also called JNIM in its Arabic acronym.
Hearing before the National Assembly’s Defense Committee, the French Minister of Armed Forces confirmed that this strike was “aimed at an armed terrorist group (…) affiliated with al-Qaeda”. “There were no observed security breaches. We heard about a wedding: there was no festive gathering at the place where the strike took place, ”she repeated.
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“Then there are rumors, and they have been very numerous on social networks,” she lamented, accusing the jihadist group in half-words of seeking to manipulate public opinion. “We know there is a kind of information war” and “it is not entirely innocent that this media release comes at a time when” this group “was communicating to explain that it was time for the French armies to leave the country. “It’s not entirely trivial that we were able to read that it could be a matter of a blunder,” she stressed.
“I absolutely reject the idea that armies could have caused what they were accused of on January 3,” she insisted. An investigation was opened by the UN mission in Mali (Minusma).
This consultation was also an opportunity to clarify the French Government’s position on the planned negotiations of the Malian authorities with certain terrorist groups. Until then, completely against any dialogue, the Elysee Palace changed its position at the end of December. This question becomes more and more urgent as France seeks a way out of the Sahel. According to Florence Parly, negotiations are possible, but not with anyone.
Our enemy in the Sahel is not homogeneous. Jihadist groups benefit from tensions between communities. And some fighters manipulated and recruited under the banner of international jihad must, if they choose to lay down their arms and join the Algerian process, be able to find their place in the life of their country.
Florence Parly, French Minister of Armed Forces