Three civilians shot dead in Mali

2015-06-04 21:19

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Bamako - Three civilians have been killed over two days in Mali's conflict-hit northern desert, local government and security sources told AFP on Thursday.

Two were gunned down in the Timbuktu region on Wednesday and Thursday while while another was shot dead in the neighbouring region of Gao on Wednesday, the sources said.

The Gao victim was a haulier who had been kidnapped on Monday near the flashpoint town of Menaka, seized from rebels by pro-government fighters in April in an operation which has sparked numerous violations of a ceasefire agreement in the area.

"We found his body on Wednesday. He was murdered. He was an ordinary man who was very popular in Menaka, and wasn't involved in poiltics," a local government official told AFP, adding that the victim had no known enemies.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for any of the killings but Mali's Tuareg-led rebel alliance, the Co-ordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), blamed pro-government militias "and their cronies in MUJAO" for the Gao attack.

MUJAO - the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa - was a jihadist group active in the area before it merged in 2013 with the Signatories in Blood to form a new Islamist militia, Al-Murabitoun.

Another civilian was shot dead from a car on Wednesday near Goundam, a town of around 16 000 about 100km southwest of the ancient caravan city of Timbuktu, according to a local official.

Renewed fighting

This area, too, has seen a recent upsurge in violence, culminating in the killing of eight Malian soldiers in May by CMA rebels.

A foreign security source announced the killing of the third civilian further north in the same region.

"A 40-year-old civilian was shot dead on Thursday by gunmen around 30km north of Timbuktu," the source told AFP.

Renewed fighting over the last month between rebels and loyalist fighters has led to the displacement of 57 000 people fleeing violence or forced recruitment, according to the UN's refugee agency.

There are now 100 000 people internally displaced in the impoverished west African nation's northern desert, the UNHCR announced on May 29.

Rights campaigners have denounced the alleged summary executions by pro-government forces in May of six civilians including a 13-year-old boy and an aid worker in the Gao region.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  cma  |  mujao  |  mali  |  west africa

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