Mali's Military and Alleged Russia-Linked Mercenaries Accused of Committing New Atrocities.
A leading human rights group has exposed grave abuses committed by Mali's army, alongside suspected mercenaries from the secretive Russian group Wagner. Human Rights Watch reported on Monday that summary executions, lootings, forced disappearances, and other atrocities occurred in Mali's central region, resulting in the death or disappearance of several dozen civilians since December 2022.
The abuses were primarily linked to military operations conducted in response to extremist groups in the Mopti and Segou regions. Witnesses described the involvement of foreign, non-French speaking armed men, commonly referred to as "white," "Russians," or associated with "Wagner."
In response to the allegations, Mali's Foreign Affairs Ministry stated that they were unaware of such abuses and promised to investigate the matter.
In a separate development, the United States took action against three Malian officials, imposing sanctions on them for their role in facilitating Wagner's deployment and expansion in the country. The officials targeted include Colonel Sadio Camara, Mali's Minister of Defense, who allegedly organized the deployment; Colonel Alou Boi Diarra, the Chief of Staff of Mali's Air Force, accused of aiding logistics for Russian entities in Mali; and Lieutenant Colonel Adama Bagayoko, the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, who allegedly advocated for Wagner mercenaries to operate in neighboring Burkina Faso.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury identified these officials as key figures enabling Wagner's activities in Mali, making their people vulnerable to destabilization and human rights violations. The sanctions also highlighted how these actions allowed the exploitation of Mali's sovereign resources for Wagner's operations in Ukraine.
Wagner, known for its involvement in eastern Ukraine alongside Russian troops, has faced increased scrutiny following their brief mutiny last month. The sanctions imposed by the United States aim to address the concerning situation and hold responsible those who facilitated Wagner's actions in Mali.