UN Confirms: January French Airstrike in Mali Killed 19 Civilians

Airstrikes hit a wedding party, not combatants

Like many nations involved in air wars, France is struggling to come to terms with the times when they bomb the wrong people. Just days after a report of a French airstrike killing civilians in Gao, which France denied, the UN has come through with its report on a January airstrike in central Mali.

Dozens were killed in the January 3 airstrike, and France maintained that they were “several dozen combatants.” Mali also claimed France had “neutralized” militants. Villagers said, and the UN ultimately confirmed, that they just bombed a wedding party full of civilians.

19 civilians were found to be killed. The wedding in question was attending by over 100 civilians, and five armed people. The UN presumes the armed people were militants. Still, it was overwhelmingly civilians who were targeted and killed.

The French Defense Ministry issued a statement disputing the UN findings, saying that they maintain that they bombed “an armed terrorist group” and definitely not a wedding.

Human rights groups suggested that they need independent investigations. That’s unlikely to amount to anything, as any group will have to either mirror France, sacrificing independence, or face accusations of terrorist propaganda.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.