World

United Nations demands access to site of alleged massacre in Mali

The United Nations’ peacekeeping mission currently being conducted in Mali, which is known by its French acronym MINUSMA, has demanded the country’s military government allow it to access the village of Moura.

Rights groups and other witnesses have said the Malian army and Russian mercenaries killed hundreds of civilians while carrying out an anti-terrorism operation in late March.

The top U.N. envoy based in Mali, El-Ghassim Wane, told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that Mali’s military government has chosen so far to deny that request.

Wane added in the statement that MINUSMA was only allowed to fly over the site on April 3 and that it was “imperative” that authorities allow access to the site. Granting access would fall in line with the U.N. mandate.

MINUSMA repeated, in a Thursday press release, “deep concern at the allegations of serious violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law” in Moura.

On April 1, Mali’s army claimed to have killed 203 “terrorists” during the operation that took place in late March. In a report Tuesday, however, Human Rights Watch cited witnesses saying Mali’s army and foreign fighters identified as Russians killed 300 civilians, some of whom were suspected Islamic fighters. 

While Bamako claims Russia sent military “instructors” to the country to help with its fight against Islamist insurgents, European governments and the United States say the Russians are aligned with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group of mercenaries.

U.N. experts have accused the group of numerous abuses, from Syria to the Central African Republic. In past investigations, the U.N. mission has found that civilians are often wrongly targeted as militants. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: VOA NEWS

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