independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Mali probes claims of atrocities

Tuareg Malian soldiers patrol the streets of Gao (AP)

Authorities in Mali are investigating accusations of torture, killings and reprisals by soldiers fighting against suspected militants, the West African country's foreign minister has said.

Concerns about abuses by Malian forces have mounted in recent weeks.

Malian troops are fighting alongside French forces in an operation to try to take back control of northern Mali from Islamist extremists who seized power last year.

Tieman Coulibaly said that four or five specific cases of "atrocities" by Malian troops are currently under formal investigation.

Asked whether Mali's weak military-led government is competent enough to carry out full and fair investigations of that kind, he said: "It's hard."

Witnesses and human rights groups say Malian troops are particularly targeting Arab and Tuareg populations.

The probe came as French President Francois Hollande said that a French soldier had been killed in a clash with extremists in a mountainous region of northern Mali.

The death brings to two the number of French troops killed since the start of the French military intervention on January 11 - the day a helicopter pilot was killed.

Mr Hollande, speaking during a visit to Greece, said "we are now in the last phase of the operation" to root out extremists from northern Mali.

Press Association

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