French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian conceded today that soldiers loyal to the Malian junta had likely committed summary executions, after repeated reports to that effect by different human rights groups.
At the same time, Le Drian downplayed the severity of the situation, saying that France could count on the commanders of the Malian Army to get troops under control with respect to revenge killings, saying there was “no question of us condoning the same kind of actions which we condemn when committed by the terrorists.”
Mali’s military has been repeatedly faulted for summary executions since September, when they captured a group of Muslim preachers heading to a conference and executed the lot of them.
Since then rights groups have reported growing evidence that troops in several frontier towns have been capturing refugees from the north, particularly those whose ethnicity are seen as pro-rebel, and executing them for not having ID cards.
Mali’s junta has taken several different approaches to the killings, claiming last week that “no military is perfect,” then denying the incidents, then announcing today that they intend to court-martial anyone proven to be involved.