Malian troops have discovered a mass grave close to a military base French forces handed back to the Malian army just days ago in Gossi.
The Gossi military base in the north of the country was handed over to the Forces Armées Maliennes (FAMa) on April 19 as part of the French forces’ planned exit from the country.
Paris plans to end its failed almost decade-long military operation under the pretext of eradicating terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the Sahel country.
The army general staff revealed in a statement that “bodies in a state of advanced putrefaction were discovered in a mass grave, not far from the camp formerly occupied by the French force Barkhane.”
“The state of advanced putrefaction of the bodies indicates that this mass grave existed well before the handover. Consequently, the responsibility for this act can in no way be attributed to the FAMa,” the statement said.
The defense ministry has been assigned to conduct an investigation into the mass killings.
France and the United States were quick to blame Russian forces deployed in Mali for the killings.
The French army claimed Russian fighters buried bodies near the Gossi base with the intention of framing the French for the killings, according to French and American news agencies.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said April 22 it supported an investigation into the mass graves and urged France to cooperate with Mali in the investigation.
Leaders of West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in purported counter-terrorism efforts by France and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.
France’s exit from Mali came as swathes of territory remained under the control of rebel militants linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh.
The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara Desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatists started targeting the local population in Mali.
As a former colonial power-—seeking significant military presence in Africa, France decided to send thousands of soldiers in 2013 to try to prevent separatist forces from reaching Mali’s capital, Bamako.
France increased the number of its forces in the Sahel from 600 to 5,100 soldiers for its Operation Barkhane last year.
However, the military boost failed to bring the situation under control and the UN also deployed its peacekeeping forces to the region.
Militant groups with links to al-Qaeda and Daesh have strengthened their foothold across the region.
This has made the territory ungovernable, stoking ethnic violence, especially in neighboring countries Mali and Burkina Faso.
The French Barkhane Force is also involved in Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, and Mauritania. (PressTV.ir)