Mali: French army strike killed 19 civilians, UN report says

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) published on Tuesday, March 30, the report of the investigation into the Bounty events of January 3, 2021. A report on which France has “many reservations” , refuting any blunders.

Following allegations of the death of several civilians caused by an airstrike near the village of Bounty (center) on January 3, 2021, MINUSMA, through its Human Rights and Protection Division (DDHP) , deployed a special fact-finding mission from January 4 to February 20, with support from the Force and the support of United Nations forensic science and public information, to shed light on the information and allegations received.

According to the Minusma report published on Tuesday, March 30, the mission team carried out its work in Bamako, Mopti, Sévaré, Douentza and Bounty. As part of this special investigation conducted in accordance with the methodology of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the team observed strict rules for collecting information and testimonies in order to ensure not only the respect for the highest standards in this area, but also for the credibility, relevance and reliability of the elements collected.

“The team conducted face-to-face face-to-face interviews with at least 115 people and at least 200 people in cluster meetings and conducted over 100 telephone interviews. It also analyzed at least 150 publications, including official statements and statements, press articles, statements and positions of other actors and open sources as well as photographs and videos relating to the strike of Bounty ”, we read in the United Nations report in Mali.

On January 25, 2021, with the support and air cover of the MINUSMA force, the team traveled to Bounty and visited the site of the airstrike, the alleged burial site of the bodies of those killed. by striking as well as the village. At the end of the investigation, MINUSMA said it was able to confirm the holding of a wedding celebration which gathered at the site of the strike, around a hundred civilians, including five armed people, alleged members of the Katiba. Serma. At least 22 people including three of the said alleged Katiba Serma members, present at the meeting place, were killed by the Barkhane Force strike on January 3, 2021 in Bounty.

Of the 22 people killed, 19 were directly affected by the strike while three died of their injuries while being transferred for emergency care. At least eight other civilians were injured in the strike. The victims are all men aged 23 to 71, the majority of whom lived in the village of Bounty.

“Many reserves”

And France’s reaction was not long in coming. In a statement, the Ministry of the Armed Forces refuted any blunders and expressed its “many reservations” on this United Nations investigation. Adding that he maintains “with constancy and strongly reaffirms” that “on January 3, the French armed forces carried out an airstrike targeting an armed terrorist group identified as such” near Bounti. The ministry’s press release also expresses “numerous reservations as to the methodology adopted”, and “cannot consider that this report provides any evidence contradicting the facts as described by the French armed forces”.

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