French Defence Minister In Mali Over Airstrike Controversy

French Defence Minister Florence Parly has met with Malian transitional President Bah N'Daw at the presidency in Bamako in further efforts to exonerate France from claims that an airstrike in January killed 19 civilians in northern Mali.

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French Defence Minister Florence Parly has met with Malian transitional President Bah N’Daw at the presidency in Bamako in further efforts to exonerate France from claims that an airstrike in January killed 19 civilians in northern Mali.

Parly whose Counterparts from Estonia, Kalle Laanet, and the Czech Republic, Lubomir Metnar, are part of the delegation, said all the fundamental principles aimed at preserving civilians were been applied.

She stated that French armed forces targeted a terrorist group that had been formally identified as such and insisted that there were no women or children among the victims.

However, an investigation by the United Nations mission in Mali (MINUSMA), showed the French air force struck near the remote village of Bounti on January 3 ,where a wedding party of about 100 people had in fact been taking place.

Although France also denied the wedding presence, saying that the strike was intended to neutralize terrorist elements only, accounts from local residents corroborate the report’s findings.

The report also questioned whether the French military had enough time to do its due diligence and ensure that its strike would not harm civilians.

But the French defence ministry stood by its denial, and also stating that it had numerous reservations about the methodology used to arrive at the report’s conclusion.

Mali has been struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first broke out in the north of the country in 2012 before spreading to the centre and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

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