Human Rights Groups Call on France to Probe Civilian Casualties During Airstrike in Mali

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Several human rights groups have called on the French government to carry out an independent investigation into an airstrike in Mali that is said to have resulted in dozens of civilian casualties.

On Tuesday, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) published a report claiming that 19 civilians were killed on January 3 near the village of Bounti, when two French fighter jets dropped bombs on a group of people identified as Islamist militants. The French Ministry of Defense has rejected these findings, arguing that the attack targeted an “armed terrorist group.” Mali’s Defense Ministry has also previously denied the deaths of civilians, claiming that the strike was delivered “during a joint operation with French forces.”

“We demand that light on the January 3 airstrike must be shed, and join the MINUSMA recommendations that called on the French and Malian authorities to carry out an independent and transparent investigation into this incident,” the human rights groups said in a joint communique on Thursday.

The communique was signed by seven human rights organizations, including the Malian Association for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and the French branch of the Oxfam charity.

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