Malian families accused Mali’s military of killing 7 civilians

Vastavam web: Families today accused Mali’s military of killing seven civilians during an operation in the centre of the country a week earlier, as the government opened an enquiry into the deaths.In a separate incident in the same region, six Malian soldiers were killed on Tuesday when their vehicle struck a mine, the army said today.Nouhoun Sarr, the nephew of one of seven men killed on February 21 after their arrest by the military, said the authorities informed him on Wednesday morning of his uncle’s fate.

“They called us to tell us our relatives were killed during the operation, without elaborating,” he told AFP.A UN report published this month found that “at least 20 percent” of recorded incidents in 2016 and in the first of half of 2017 that endangered civilian lives involved the Malian authorities — essentially the security forces.The government said in a statement on Wednesday that the army was “carrying out reconnaissance missions and searches in the Sokolo area, during which civilians unfortunately lost their lives.

“An enquiry has been opened,” it added.The army suffers losses on a weekly basis at the hands of jiahdists, and on Tuesday a lieutenant was among the six killed, an army statement said.Islamic extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.