Mali’s Largest Jihadi Coalition Says It Captured Russian Wagner Group Fighterthe Kremlin-linked security firm allegedly hired by the country’s military junta.
The claim was made in a statement sent to the AFP on Sunday night for the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM)though he provided no evidence to support the claim.
“In the first week of April, (we) captured a soldier from Wagner’s Russian forces in the Segou region of central Mali”said the GSIM.
The group said that the Russians had participated in a massacre in Mourain central Mali, last month, an event whose contours were reported by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“These murderous forces participated with the Malian army in an airdrop operation on a market in the village of Moura, where they clashed with a number of mujahideen before surrounding this village for five days and kill hundreds of innocent civilians.” said.
It is the first time that GSIM, an alliance linked to Al Qaeda and the largest jihadist network in sahelannounces the capture of a Wagner operative.
In another operation, the GSIM statement said, “the mercenaries” carried out two parachute drops in Bandiagarain central Mali.
Jihadi fighters seized weapons “of the mercenaries, who fled”said.
The United States, France and others say Mali hired the Wagner group to help its armed forceswho are fighting to roll back a decade-old jihadist insurgency.
Mali’s military-dominated government says Russians in the country are military instructors. He has also started receiving Russian combat helicopters and radars.
HRW says that Malian soldiers and white foreign soldiers, who did not speak French, executed 300 civilians in Moura between March 27 and 31.
Mali says it “neutralized” 203 jihadists in Moura. The United Nations says Malian authorities are preventing its investigators from accessing the area.
The Wagner group has also been accused of abuses in the Central African Republic.
Large swaths of Mali are out of government control due to jihadist insurgencywhich began in 2012 before spreading three years later to neighbors Burkina Faso Y Niger.
Francethe former colonial power and traditional ally of Mali, it intervened in 2013 and deployed a large force to support the Malian armed forces.
But in February decided to withdraw its troops after fighting with the military juntaespecially for his approach to the Kremlin.
The Sahelian country is run by a military junta who seized power in a coup in August 2020.
The junta initially promised to restore civilian rulebut failed to meet an earlier commitment to the West African bloc ECOWAS to hold elections in February this year, prompting regional sanctions.
Last week, a document from the army and officials said a Russian national operating alongside Malian soldiers was killed by a roadside bomb in central Sahel statedevastated by the conflict.
A Malian army unit accompanied by a “Russian adviser” hit an improvised explosive device near the town of Hombori last Tuesday, according to a military memo seen by AFP.
It was the first confirmed Russian death in Mali.
On Sunday, the Malian army announced the death of six soldiers in simultaneous attacks on three military bases in central Mali.
The army statement added that a helicopter and two vehicles were also damaged.
According to a diplomatic document seen by AFPalmost all Malian military helicopters are currently being flown by Russians with Malian co-pilots.
In general, it is said that the conflict in Mali caused thousands of military and civilian deaths and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.
Jihadist violence has spread from the north of the country to the center and southwhere the conflict is also fueled by ethnic friction and criminal gangs.
(With information from AFP)
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