Malian army accused of carrying out summary executions

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In a single day, buildings were burned to the ground, motorbikes were destroyed and people were killed and buried in the town of Nia Ouro, located in central Mali. Our team has established what happened in this village on January 4, 2022, using videos we have verified, satellite images and eyewitness testimony from our Observer. He says the Malian army was responsible for the death and destruction.

The first report of this attack came in the form of a video posted on Twitter by a user with the handle @kaartanke on January 9. It shows a destroyed granary, next to the burnt hull of a cart. The caption reads: “Nia-Ouro’s face after FAMa[The Malian Armed Forces] Pass through”. Our team contacted this social media user, who said he did not take the video himself. He said he first saw it on a WhatsApp group After our exchange, he sent us two more videos showing two bodies being dug up.

The face of Nia-Ouro after the passage of the #famas. It is high time for our soldiers to change tactics. We cannot pretend to fight terrorism using its methods of terror and scorched earth. Men, granaries, carts, animals, nothing was spared. #Mopti pic.twitter.com/WhGECbPz65

— YATTASSAYE (@kaartanke) Jan 9, 2022 Video posted Jan 9, 2022 by @kaartanke Twitter account Another social media user then shared additional videos with our team explaining they showed Nia Ouro after the attack. The nine videos he sent us showed charred motorbikes and carts as well as burned granaries. Footage also shows residents digging up two freshly buried bodies, at least one of which has its hands tied behind its back. Several landmarks appear in multiple videos, indicating that they were filmed in the same location.

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© {{ scope.credits }} Slideshow of screenshots of two different videos, with the same visible elements circled.

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© {{ scope.credits }} French media RFI and Liberation reported that Malian soldiers were suspected of carrying out an attack in Nia Ouro on January 4, 2022. RFI published the news on January 7 and Liberation the following day.

On the afternoon of January 4, the Malian NGO Kisal, which focuses on the protection and development of human rights in the Sahel, posted a message about the attack on Facebook.

“This Tuesday, January 4, 2022, which coincides with the weekly market in Sofara, individuals wearing military uniforms – who claimed to be Malian soldiers stationed at the Sofara camp – stormed the town of Nia Ouro, the men were systematically tied up and beaten according to villagers’ reports and several motorbikes were burned.

Facebook post from the NGO Kisal, reporting the events of January 4, 2022.

Our team contacted a Belgian human rights defender from an organization active in the region. She told our team that she recognized a man in one of the videos. She said he was from Nia Ouro and acted as her guide on one of her trips there. She also says that she got confirmation that the videos were indeed shot in Nia Ouro.

“We found the four bodies. They each had their hands tied behind their backs and a bullet in their heads. Our team also spoke to a man from Nia Ouro, who witnessed part of the attack. Diallo (pseudonym) is a young man who has lived his whole life in the village. Late in the afternoon of January 3, 2022, he and his friend saw vehicles heading towards town.

“We saw a lot of military vehicles park on the outskirts of the village, then we saw men coming out. They were dressed like Malian soldiers. They spent the night outside Nia Ouro.

The next day, around 9 a.m., I headed for the Sofara market [Editor’s note: 10 km to the west of Nia Ouro]. I was with about ten people. Almost as soon as we left the village, the men dressed as Malian soldiers stopped us. There were about a dozen of us and they made us sit down. They looked at our NINA cards [Editor’s note: a Malian identity card] then they threw them on the ground. Thank God they let me go, I still don’t know why.

When I came back from Sofara market, around 1 p.m., there were a lot of burnt houses as well as granaries. Food had also been stolen. Of the eight people who were arrested earlier in the day, four were found dead and four are still missing. We found the four bodies. They each had their hands tied behind their backs and a bullet in their heads.”

To verify the videos, we asked our Observer to send us another video of the destruction at Nia Ouro. We were able to identify landmarks and other clues present in both videos.

Thanks to the video sent to us by our Observer, we were able to determine the exact place in Nia Ouro where buildings were set on fire.

The destruction carried out by the men wearing the uniforms of the Malian soldiers appears on these satellite images. NASA’s FIRMS system, which detects fires by looking at satellite images, detected two fires in Nia Ouro on January 4, 2022. The system detected no fires in the seven days before or after.

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© {{ scope.credits }} According to Boubakar Ba, a researcher at the research center called Center for Analysis on Governance and Security in the Sahel, villagers living in Nia Ouro, most of whom are from the Fulani ethnic group, are sometimes trapped amid rising tensions.

“They are caught between several ‘fires’: the jihadists, the FAMa [Malian army] and local militias closely linked to the government who sometimes work with the FAMa,” he explained.

Our Observer from Nia Ouro says he has no idea why the men dressed as Malian soldiers did this:

Among those killed were two shepherds, a market vendor and a man from the nearby village. We don’t know why they did this. I fear. Everyone here is scared. Some people have fled the village since the January 4 attack. But I don’t want to go there, I have family who live here.

A statement was issued by the Malian army spokesman the day after the Nia Ouro attack, saying: “On January 4, 2022, the FAMa unit foiled another coordinated terrorist action in the Nia sector. Ouro, Sofara region. Fifteen armed motorcyclists were seen. coming from the Sama forest and were intercepted and neutralized.”

The Malian army division general did not respond to our interview requests, which were communicated both in writing and by voice message.

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