Mali confirms 'summary executions'
Bamako - The Malian army on Monday confirmed the summary execution of soldiers and civilians during a Tuareg offensive in the north-eastern town of Aguelhok on January 24.
"There were indeed summary executions on this day. People's throats were cut, others were simply shot in the head," said Colonel Idrissa Traore, head of the army's information service.
He said there were civilians among those killed, saying he believed these acts could only have been committed by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
French Development Minister Henri de Raincourt earlier on Monday condemned the the murder of 82 people in northern Mali, accusing the killers of adopting al-Qaeda-style tactics.
"There was absolutely atrocious and unacceptable violence in Aguelhok. There were summary executions of soldiers, civilians," de Raincourt, who visited Mali recently, told RFI radio.
Traore said he could not give the exact number of dead, but it was "about 60".
But an officer involved in burying those killed told AFP he had counted 97 dead soldiers and saw a military camp "completely destroyed, cars were burning".
The Tuareg rebels - whose numbers include those who had returned from fighting in Libya for Muammar Gaddafi - are demanding greater autonomy for their nomadic desert tribes.
The latest fighting began on January 17, when the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) launched an attack in northern Mali. This sparked clashes with the army and has become the largest offensive by Tuaregs since 2009.