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UN investigation concludes Barkhane strike killed civilians in January in Bounti

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                On January 3, 2021, an Operation Barkhane strike targeted the village of Bounti, in central Mali.  Accused for weeks of blunder, the French army says it targeted jihadists who were organizing a rally.  But the version of the human rights division of Minusma, the United Nations mission in Mali, is quite different.

                                    <p><em>With our correspondent in Bamako</em>, <strong>Serge Daniel</strong>

According to the United Nations report, that day, January 3, 2021, there was a wedding ceremony in the Malian village of Bounti, located in the center of the country. This celebration brought together a hundred people, mostly civilians. It was therefore not a gathering of jihadists for the authors of the UN report.

When asked why no women were present the report states that ” in view of local traditions, men and women are separated during these events ».

The UN investigative team, which interviewed 115 to 200 people, is also categorical on another point: at least 16 civilians were killed during of the strike by the French force Barkhane. Three civilians also died from their injuries after the strike.

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The report then adds that at the scene, on January 3, there were also five armed individuals. One of them was very visibly carrying his weapon. Some of its individuals are believed to belong to a jihadist group. Among them, three died in the airstrike.

The investigators, in this document, make recommendations to the French and Malian authorities. They consider necessary the opening on the ground of an investigation ” independent, credible and transparent, to examine the circumstances of the strike and its impact on the civilian population of Bounti ».

In a press release published shortly after the release of this report, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces refutes these conclusions.

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