Mali troops are resorting to abusive, dangerous measures to fight Islamist extremists, a human rights group and others say.
On Wednesday, just as the French-led military intervention began, Malian soldiers approached people at a bus stop and accused them of having ties to radical Islamists. "They gathered all the people who didn't have national identity cards and the people they suspected of being close to the Islamists to execute them and put them in two different wells near the bus station," a witness told the Associated Press.
The accusation comes as French human rights group the International Federation for Human Rights says that Malian forces have committed dozens of "summary executions" in an effort to battle Islamist extremists, Kuwait News Agency reported.
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The Mali army is being supported by a large deployment of French troops, and a France official has now also expressed concern. Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian admitted to France 24 today that Mali's army may be committing human rights abuses. He called for "vigilance" to stop the abuse.
At the same time, others are concerned that Mali troops aren't even able to fight the extremists. The Associated Press reported earlier that when the radical Islamists descended into a Malian military camp recently, dozens of Malian troops fled in fear and ripped off their uniforms. Residents were left behind without protection from the soldiers.