Malian soldiers accused of executing rebels

France defends allies but calls for troops to be kept 'under control' amid latest allegations

Paris

France was forced to defend its allies in the Malian army after two human rights organisations said they had confirmation of reports of summary executions of suspected rebel sympathisers by Malian troops as they regained territory lost to Islamist fighters this week.

The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian called on Bamako to make sure its troops were “under control”. The Malian government issued a statement reminding the army to “show strict respect of human rights... There is no question of us condoning  the same kind of actions which we condemn when committed by the terrorists”.

The first elements of a promised 3,000 strong, pan-west African force began to deploy in central Mali allowing Malian and French troops to push north towards the large rebel-held towns of Timbuktu and Gao. A force of 160 troops from neighbouring Burkina Faso relieved French troops guarding a bridge over the Niger river south of the town of Diabaly recaptured early this week.

Further east French bombers targeted the town of Ansongo, about 80km from Gao, and also struck rebel camps in the nearby village of the Seyna Sonrai. “French military planes successfully attacked Islamist positions at Ansongo and nearby areas,” a Malian source said. “The strikes were very successful and caused damage to the enemy.”

The news of the Malian atrocities emerged as France edged closer to intervening in a second country in the Sahara-Sahel region. French special forces  have been ordered to guard uranium mines run by the French state-owned nuclear company, Areva, in Niger. A source in Paris said that the deployment was a precaution following the mass hostage-taking at a gas complex in south eastern Algeria last week. Uranium from Niger provides a large part of the raw material for French nuclear power stations, which generate 75 per cent of the country’s electricity.

Troops and equipment would be sent to Areva’s uranium production sites in Imouraren and Arlit very quickly, the source added.  Seven workers, including five French nationals, were kidnapped in Arlit by al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb in September 2010. It later released three of the hostages but four are still captive.

An official at the defence ministry said that for the moment Nigerien authorities had not yet approved the measure. A Niger army officer added that there were security arrangements agreed with France in 2011 after the kidnappings in Arlit and they had been reinforced over time. “For now, I don’t know of a decision by the Nigerien government to allow French special forces to base themselves in the north,” he said.

Part of one of the two Malian rebel groups, Ansar Dine, announced that it was breaking away to “control our own fate”. The group’s former leader, Alghabass Ag Intalla , said that he was creating a new organisation called the Mouvement islamique de l’Azawad (MIA).

“We are a group of people from the north of Mali who have a set of grievances that date back at least 50 years,” he said. “We are not terrorists. We are ready to negotiate.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee