Malian army says mass grave discovered near former French base
Responsibility in no way can be attributed to Malian army, statement says
The Malian army (FAMA) said late Friday it discovered a mass grave near the camp formerly occupied by the French force in Gossi in the north.
The French army exited Gossi's advanced operational base on Tuesday, transferring it to the Malian army.
“Remains in a state of advanced putrefaction were discovered in a mass grave, not far from the camp formerly occupied by the French Barkhane force,” according to a statement by the General Staff of the Malian armies.
It said “advanced state of putrefaction of the bodies indicates that the mass grave existed long before the (base) handover.”
“Therefore, responsibility for this act can in no way be attributed to the FAMA,” it said.
The Defense Ministry is to open an investigation to shed light on the mass grave, according to the statement.
The announcement came hours after the French military accused Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group in Mali of “manipulating information.”
The French army claimed it “filmed Russian mercenaries burying bodies near the Gossi base, with the intention of implicating the French as having left a mass grave behind.”
The base reportedly had about 300 French soldiers.
France sent troops to the western African country in 2013 hoping to defeat insurgents in northern Mali and the Sahel.
The operation ended in February after France's ties with its former colony deteriorated.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday it supported an investigation into the mass graves and urged France to cooperate with Mali in the investigation.
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