Sahel security forces accused of war crimes

Mali troops

Soldiers rampaging through villages in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have unlawfully killed or forcibly disappeared at least 199 people between February and April 2020, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published June 10. Some of the killings amount to extrajudicial executions and among the victims are internally displaced persons. The briefing, “‘They Executed Some and Brought the Rest with Them’: Civilian Lives at risk in the Sahel,” calls on the governments of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to put an end to the impunity by their security forces, and to ensure that military operations are in conformity with human rights and international humanitarian law. In Mali and Burkina Faso, where the situation amounts to a “non-international armed conflict,” the deliberate killings of unarmed civilians by security forces could meet the qualification of war crimes.

“Insecurity is rife in the Sahel where the general population is trapped between attacks by armed groups and ongoing military operations. While arbitrary arrests by security forces sweep up dozens of people at a time, some aren’t seen again, and the true scale of the violations committed by the armies is unknown,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International West and Central Africa director. (ReliefWeb)

Similar claims were raised last month by the UN Mission in Mali.

French troops and advisors are embedded with and overseeing the Sahelian forces. French forces announced June 4 that they had killed the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Algerian national Abdelmalek Droukdel, in a raid in northern Mali. France also announced the capture the following day of Mohamed el Mrabat, a prominent leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS). (AFP)

On June 5, thousands of people took to the streets of Mali’s capital demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Urged by opposition parties, demonstrators gathered in a central square in Bamako to condemn what they call the president’s mishandling of the multiple crises facing the country. (Al Jazeera)

Photo: Magharebia via Wikimedia Commons

  1. More protests rock Bamako

    Tens of thousands of Malians took to the streets of Bamako on June 19 to call for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose government is accused of corruption and failing to stem rising violence in northern and central parts of the country. 

    Police fired tear gas at demonstrators, who were protesting for the second time this month in a campaign organized by a coalition of opposition and civil society groups that prominently includes the influential cleric, Mahmoud Dicko. (TNH)

  2. ‘Killing field’ in Burkina Faso

    At least 180 bodies have been found in common graves in Djibo, a town in the north of Burkina Faso, Human Rights Watch reports, saying that the killings were probably carried out by government forces. (Al Jazeera)

  3. Opposition leaders arrested in Mali

    Mali’s opposition coalition said security forces detained two leaders of anti-government protests and raided its headquarters following violent demonstrations against the president in the capital. The opposition coalition M5-RFP said Choguel Kokala Maiga and Mountaga Tall, two senior figures in the movement, were detained along with other activists on July 11. Another protest leader, Issa Kaou Djim, was arrested the previous day. (Reuters)

  4. Another massacre in Burkina Faso

    Unidentified gunmen killed about 20 people in an attack on a cattle market in eastern Burkina Faso. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the village of Fada N’Gourma. (Al Jazeera)

  5. Niger: French aid workers among eight killed by gunmen

    Gunmen attacked a group of aid workers in Niger, killing six French citizens, their local guide and driver. The gunmen arrived on motorcycles and opened fire in the attack. ACTED, a French humanitarian NGO, confirmed its staff members were involved in the incident. The attack was in the Koure region, which attracts tourists who want to see the last herds of giraffe in West Africa. (BBC News)

  6. Dozens killed in attacks on two Niger villages

    Suspected Islamist militants have attacked two villages in Niger, with reports of dozens civilians killed. At least 49 died in the village of Tchombangou, while another 30 died in Zaroumdareye—both near Niger’s western border with Mali. (BBC News)

  7. Two million displaced in Sahel violence

    A UN briefing on Jan. 22 called for an end to the violence in West Africa’s Sahel region, where more than two million people have been displaced within the borders of their own countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger). Boris Cheshirkov, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that the number of internally displaced persons in the region has quadrupled in just two years. (Jurist)