According to a report that was examined by AFP on Friday, experts from the United Nations stated that the Malian military and so-called “white troops” were responsible for the deaths of 33 civilians in Mali, including 29 Mauritian citizens and four Malian citizens. Mali and Mauritania were both shaken up after the disappearance of these citizens on March 5 in the town of Robinet El Ataye, which is located in the Segou area and is close to the border with Mauritania. In this border region, the city of Nouakchott has accused the Malian military of committing “recurrent criminal acts” against Mauritanian civilians. Bamako had stated that there was nothing to suggest that its troops were involved.
The two nations had begun cooperating on an inquiry, but the findings of that probe had not been made public as of the beginning of August. The latter are reportedly members of the paramilitary group Wagner, which, since January, has been serving alongside the Malian armed forces. This information was provided by a diplomat based in New York. Moscow says it has nothing to do with the group that is working in Mali on a “commercial basis,” while Bamako denies that there are mercenaries there and instead talks about “instructors.”
According to the allegation, “a troop of white soldiers” arrived at Robinet El Ataye on March 5 around 8.30 a.m. (both local and GMT time), which is a settlement with a well that is commonly frequented by Malian and Mauritanian herders seeking pasture. The soldiers are described as having “picked up the males, including youngsters, tied their hands behind their backs, and blindfolded them.” The group said that “they were then herded into the middle of the village,” the group said, adding that “the women and children were ordered to go home and not to look,” despite the fact that it was unable to visit the site but had collected several testimonies. “They were then herded into the middle of the village,” the group said.
The soldiers that were dispatched then “stripped the residences of all things,” including clothing, bedding, cell phones, jewelry, and cooking equipment. The passage continues by saying that at eleven in the morning, “a group of FAMas,” which is short for the Malian Armed Forces, “arrived in the village.” They “began beating the men while they were blindfolded” with “the rods that shepherds use to beat their sheep.”
According to the information provided by the group, “the ladies,” who were confined within the homes, “could only hear the cries of the males who were being beaten.” The “FAMAS then freed some of the younger men, and carried away 33 individuals,” which included 29 Mauritanians and four Malians (Tuareg).
After the troops had left the town at two in the afternoon, the women waited inside for the men to come back and rejoin them. In vain. According to the specialists, the bodies were found by relatives the following day, about four kilometers away from Robinet El-Ataye. The conclusion of the text is that “they had been shot and then burned.” Although no one was murdered, the Panel mentions a “similar pattern of looting and assault” that occurred in five other communities in the vicinity between March 5 and 6. These incidents took place between 5 and 6. Witnesses mentioned a chopper that was bringing “white-skinned soldiers” in two of the accounts.
The group takes note of the fact that eleven bodies that were discovered at Robinet El Ataye are said to have been returned to their families by the Mauritanian authorities. These authorities had access to the village during the time that the joint commission of enquiry was conducting its work, as did the Malian authorities. In addition to this panel, the military court in Bamako also made an announcement that they would be launching an investigation into the matter. In spite of this, the Malian military, which had taken control of Mali as a result of two coups in August 2020 and May 2021, asserted that the Malian army had nothing to do with these disappearances.
Since the beginning of the year, the Malian army has carried out a number of military operations in the Segou and Mopti districts of central Mali in an effort to “hunt down” terrorist organizations. On multiple occasions, non-governmental organizations have leveled allegations of mistreatment against their personnel.