Africa

Mali: Investigations into French attack draw suspicion

Injured people were abducted by gendarmerie to avoid testifying, reports organization leader

Aurore Bonny   | 23.01.2021
Mali: Investigations into French attack draw suspicion

LOME, Togo

Public opinion is calling on the Malian and French governments to investigate the French airstrike of Jan. 3 in central Mali, but for the local organizations contacted by Anadolu Agency those surveys will not produce any results.

A dozen people lost their lives in that air strike led by the French military in Mali. But according to the French General Staff, the "Barkane Force carried out a single strike against an armed terrorist group (GAT) in the region of Douentza, one kilometer north of the village of Bounti".

However, several local sources have refuted this version, accusing the military of attacking a group of civilians celebrating a wedding.

Denying this version, France stated in a communique that it was "disinformation" and "no collateral damage, no constituent elements of a festive gathering or marriage were observed".

The version was also confirmed by the Malian Defense Ministry which stated that the French air strikes were carried out on the basis of "very precise intelligence". The attack also made it possible to “neutralize several dozen terrorists”.

Since then, national and international communities have called for independent investigations.

But "if those investigations are carried out, we believe it will be difficult. Because the wounded were taken from the Somine Dolo hospital in Sevare by the gendarmerie. They were imprisoned in order to be prevented from testifying," reported Hamadoune Dicko, the president of a Malian association, Jeunesse Tabital Pulaaku.

No proof

The association has also published "the list of people killed" and the names of the bride and groom. Dicko confirmed to Anadolu Agency that his close friend died in the strike.

For him, there is no doubt that civilians were targeted by the French.

"If they were jihadists we wouldn't have spoken. We don't defend terrorism. We also asked for proof in pictures or videos that they were jihadists. But we know that everything is completely wrong,” he added.

Dicko also believes that Malian and French armies "want to deny it so they won't be prosecuted".

There is "no hope for the investigations officially launched. In fact they will not investigate. They just make statements that end up being forgotten,” added Drissa Memita, the communications officer of Yerewolo Standing Under the Ramparts, a group of activists opposed to the French military’s presence in Mali.

"We have asked for clarification on this attack. The French army claims to have attacked terrorists, but the manner of the bombing and the duration make this statement suspicious. Especially since the French army likes to publicize its exploits quickly. The local population also testified that they were civilians," he said.

Together with the other activists of his movement, they are doing awareness-raising tours against the French presence in Mali. The most recent of their operations is the march organized on Jan. 20.

It had been planned several days before. But it was banned at the last minute by the authorities. The police did not hesitate to disperse the demonstrators using tear gas.

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