UN Sends Peacekeepers to Northern Mali After Killings

U.N. peacekeepers in Mali have deployed to the northeast border with Burkina Faso and Niger after reports of civilians being massacred.

The U.N. says Mali’s U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA, has deployed forces to Mali’s northern Tri-border area amid increasing insecurity.

A U.N. statement to the media released Thursday said that “attacks by armed terrorist groups have had a devastating impact on the already distressed civilian population” and have resulted in “dozens of deaths.”

Reports on social networks have circulated in recent weeks claiming that hundreds of civilians have been killed by Islamic State-affiliated extremist groups in the Menaka and Gao regions of Mali, in the country’s northeast.

Mali’s northeast border area with Burkina Faso and Niger has been plagued by increasing insecurity in recent years. In August of 2021, more than 50 civilians were massacred in villages in the area.

The Malian army said in a March 15 press release that it had conducted airstrikes in the Menaka region following “terrorist attacks” against the population.

An alliance of Tuareg nationalist groups claims that following the killings, the Malian army detained and executed 17 civilians in the town of Ansongo, Mali.

The Malian army published a press release this week saying it is aware of and investigating accusations of abuse. The release asks people to “distance themselves from terrorists” to minimize the risk of “collateral damage.”

VOA attempted to reach a Malian army spokesman for comment but he did not return phone calls.

Human Rights Watch published a report in March that said the Malian army and armed Islamists both have killed more than 100 civilians since December.

Source: Voice of America

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