Thursday, April 18, 2024

HRW Accuses Wagner Group Of Killing Civilians With Malian Army

Human Rights Watch, HRW says Russian mercenary group Wagner is helping government forces in central and northern Mali carry out raids and drone strikes that have killed scores of civilians, including many children.

The claim was published by the body in reports this week, spanning the period from December to March.

In a statement on Thursday, Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Sahel researcher at Human Rights Watch, said Mali’s Russia-backed transitional military government was not only committing horrific abuses, but was working to eliminate scrutiny into its human rights situation.

In an example of a raid carried out by Russian-backed government forces in January, Human Rights Watch said the army entered a village near a military base in central Mali and arrested 25 people, including four children. The report said their bodies were found later that day blindfolded and with bullet wounds to the head.

Human Rights Watch has said the Turkish-supplied drones in Mali are capable of delivering precise laser-guided bombs.

The group has also documented how drone strikes have killed civilians. In one example, a drone strike in central Mali’s Segou region killed at least seven people at a wedding, including two boys.

For over a decade, Mali, along with its neighbours Burkina Faso and Niger, has battled an insurgency fought by jihadi groups, including some allied with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

Following military coups in all three nations in recent years, the ruling juntas have expelled French forces and turned to Russia’s mercenary units for security assistance instead.

The juntas ruling Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso earlier this month announced a joint security force to fight the worsening extremist violence in their Sahel region.

This follows steps taken by the juntas to step away from other regional and Western nations that don’t agree with their approach and rely on Russia for security support instead.

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