Mali says it has banned citizens from a border area where the disappearance of citizens from Mauritania – accused by social media of Malian troops – aroused tensions between the two neighbors.
In a statement late Sunday issued after Mali sent envoys to Mauritania, government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga announced, “The military authorities have decided to strictly ban any movement by civilians in the Wagadou forest and Gringale forest zones.”
Social media in Mauritania have accused the Malian army of killing civilians in a border area south of Adel Bagrou, a city in the southeast of the country.
The government of Mauritania has accused the army of “recurring criminal acts”, but gave no further details.
A high-level Malian delegation was in Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital, on Friday and Saturday in an effort to reduce friction.
Both sides have agreed to set up a joint investigation into the disappearances and set up joint patrols in the border area.
Maiga, in his statement, said the Wagadou and Gringale zones were located in an area where the Malian military has been conducting anti-jihadist operations since December.
But, repeating Mali’s previous positions, Maiga said the army had nothing to do with the disappearances.
“Based on technological evidence, it appears that no FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) patrol was present in the zone at the given dates,” he said. “At present, no evidence supports the incrimination of our courageous FAMA.”
– Two separate incidents –
Separately, the prosecutor announced at the military court in Bamako, the Malian capital, that an investigation into the disappearances would be conducted by gendarmes.
The statement gave no further details – two series of disappearances have been reported, in January and early March.
Authorities had earlier promised to investigate the disappearances in January, but the outcome of that investigation has not been made public.
A Mauritanian MP says at least 15 people have been killed, while unconfirmed voice recordings on social media cite witnesses blaming the Malian army for the disappearance of as many as 30.
Mali and Mauritania are important countries in the poor and troubled Sahel region of West Africa.
The military junta in Bamako seized power in August 2020, during which President-elect Ibrahim Boubacar turned Keita into a wave of public protests over his handling of a jihadist uprising.
The country’s poorly equipped armed forces are struggling with jihadist insurgents, ethnic violence and criminal gangs. Accusations of abuse by troops are common.
In the run-up to the latest incident, the junta sought closer ties with Mauritania to reduce the impact of an embargo by Mali’s neighbors on the failure of a pledge to hold elections.
Mali bans citizens from border area in Mauritania tensions
Source link Mali bans citizens from border area in Mauritania tensions