BAMAKO (Reuters) – The Malian government on Saturday denied allegations the army carried out mass summary executions of civilians in the centre of the country earlier in March.
Its statement follows the U.N. peacekeeping mission’s decision on Friday to investigate the killing of dozens of people in the rural commune of Diabaly.
A video circulating on social media this week showed dozens of badly-burned bodies that were blindfolded and had their hands bound together. Some of them appeared to have holes in the back of their heads.
An official in central Mali, who asked not to be named, said the bodies were found on Tuesday night and are believed to be people who were arrested by the Malian army, some on Feb. 20 and others on March 1.
The government said any allegations of the army’s involvement were completely false. “This act in no way constitutes the modus operandi of our forces,” it said, announcing its own investigation.
The U.N. has repeatedly accused Malian soldiers of summarily executing civilians and suspected militants over the course of their decade-long fight against groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.
The military has in some cases acknowledged that its forces were implicated in executions and other abuses, but few soldiers have faced criminal charges.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)