France killed 19 civilians in Mali in Jan., violated intl. human rights law: Report
A report by a UK-based investigative group says an airstrike by France in Mali early this year killed 19 civilians and was a “complete violation of international human rights and international humanitarian law.”
The report, released by the London-based international law firm Stoke White Investigations on Monday, said that French drones bombed a wedding ceremony in a village in central Mali on January 3, which resulted in the death of at least 19 civilians.
The report contradicted France’s claim that its forces had attacked an armed “terrorist group” affiliated with al-Qaeda in Bounti Village in Mali as part of a military intervention code-named Operation Barkhane in West Africa’s Sahel region.
Citing an investigation by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the report said 22 people had been killed in the attack — 19 civilians and three suspected members of an armed group. Another eight civilians were also injured.
The victims were all men between the ages of 23 and 71, mostly residents of the village.
“The attack is in complete violation of international human rights and international humanitarian law. The French military is under a legal duty to investigate the civilian casualties,” said Khalil Dewan, the author of the report.
“But France has a systematic problem in admitting and identifying casualties and/or injuries as a result of its military actions,” he added.
The report by the investigation team was based on more than 400 interviews and the analysis of more than 150 documents.