Human Rights Watch (HWR) released a report Tuesday revealing that Malian armed forces and associated foreign soldiers allegedly executed an estimated 300 civilian men in late March 2022. The civilians were allegedly executed in the central Malian town of Moura.
These alleged killings are the latest in the ongoing Malian civil war, which began in 2012 when insurgent groups throughout northern Mali declared an intention to split from the rest of the country. An ongoing armed conflict has ensured, with the Northern Malian forces, the Malian army, and various Islamist groups all fighting for control of various regions.
The HWR report states the civilians were arrested on alleged charges of terrorism. They were then brought to the town of Moura for imprisonment and execution. The town has been the site of numerous human rights abuses in the ongoing Malian military conflict. However, in the decade-long conflict, there has never been a larger killing by the Malian government. Corinne Dufka, HWR’s director in West Africa, condemned the Malian government by declaring “The Malian government is responsible for this atrocity, the worst in Mali in a decade.”
These killings are the latest manifestation of a dramatic increase in violence throughout the Malian conflict. In recent months, hundreds of civilians have been killed throughout the country by numerous armed militias.
The report also stated that foreign soldiers may have been present at the mass execution:
Residents in the area have described to Human Rights Watch the presence of scores of white, non-French-speaking armed men participating in military operations in and around the central Malian towns of Sofara, Ségou, Mopti, Diabaly, and Belidanédji among others. Residents said they believed these soldiers were Russians, in part because Mali’s transition government said in December 2021, that “Russian trainers” were in Mali as part of a bilateral agreement with Russia.
Up until this recent HWR report, there had been no concrete knowledge of foreign involvement in the Malian conflict.