Russia denies mercenaries involved in Mali massacre

Russia has rubbished allegations that Russian mercenaries were involved the alleged killing of hundreds of civilians in the central Mopti region.

Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch alleged that about 300 people were executed during a recent operation in Moura village.

But Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it had been a successful operation by Mali’s army alone in which around 200 jihadists had been killed.

“We would like to congratulate Malians on this important victory in the fight against the terrorist threat,” she said.

Mali has been battling a decade-long insurgency, with France playing a major role until February when French President Emmanuel Macron announced their withdrawal.

“It should be noted that this success was achieved by the Malian military against the backdrop of the ongoing withdrawal from Mali of the French troops,” Ms Zakharova added.

Relations between France and Mali deteriorated after the military seized power in 2020.

The former colonial power has also been angered by a decision to use fighters from the Russian company Wagner to help in the fight against jihadists, though the junta has denied they are in the country.

Ms Zakharova said accusations against Russian mercenaries was part of a disinformation campaign against Russia linked to Ukraine, where its troops are accused of involvement in war crimes.

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