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Mali opens probe into killing of nine would-be soldiers

By AFP

May 30, 2024 10:08 PM


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An investigation has been opened into the killing of nine young  candidates to join Mali's army in the jihadist-plagued north, the public prosecutor said in a statement seen by AFP on Thursday.

"On Sunday May 19, at around eight am (0800 GMT) on the Goundam-Dire road, nine young candidates on their way to Timbuktu to take part in sports tests for recruitment into the Malian armed forces were shot dead by armed individuals," said the statement dated Wednesday and signed by prosecutor Amadou Bocar Toure.

"An investigation has been opened with a view to shedding light on the case and identifying and arresting the perpetrators," it added.

"They were all shot dead," a local security source told AFP, claiming the attack was carried out by fighters affiliated to the Al-Qaeda-linked Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM) to "dissuade the civilian population from collaborating with the army".

The killing of the young men received widespread social media attention and sparked tributes in the towns of Dire and Goundam, but authorities had not issued any official communications on the subject.

Pressure from armed groups and the ruling military has silenced most independent sources of information in its areas of operation.

Since 2012, Mali has been ravaged by different groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, as well as by self-declared self-defence forces and bandits.

Since seizing power in a 2020 coup, the military has broken off its anti-jihadist alliance with France and European partners, while turning politically and militarily towards Russia.

Both jihadists and government forces have been accused of committing serious abuses against civilians, which are often difficult to verify.

 

 


AFP


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