by IANS |
New York, Aug 6 (IANS) Foreign mercenaries under contract to Mali's military government are believed to have carried out a massacre of over 30 civilians in the country earlier this year, according to a confidential UN report.
Accessed by dpa news agency, the report, which was authored by UN experts and has been submitted to the Security Council, describes an incident that took place in central Mali in early March and relates eyewitness accounts of the arrival of "white-skinned soldiers" in a Malian village on the morning of March 5.
"The soldiers proceeded to round up the men and older boys, tied their hands behind their backs and blindfolded them," the report quoted a witness as saying, adding that the were subsequently rounded up in the centre of the village and the surrounding houses were looted.
The soldiers then apparently began beating the blindfolded and restrained men with heavy sticks, while others blocked the entrances to nearby houses and instructed women and children to remain inside.
"They could only hear the screams of the men as they were beaten," the witness added.
Up to 34 men, including 29 Mauritanians and four Malians, were then taken away, the witness said, adding that their charred remains were discovered nearby the following day.
Since a coup in May 2021, Mali has been ruled by a military junta.
According to the UN report, the volatile security situation in Mali has created a security vacuum that has led to a sharp increase in civilian deaths, with over 500 people being killed in the first three months of this year alone.