A Russian member of the Wagner Private Military Society was ” capture “ by jihadists in central Mali, according to a press release from the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and sent to AFP on the night of Sunday April 24 to Monday April 25. This is the first time that this movement linked to Al-Qaeda has claimed such a hold. However, no evidence to attest to its veracity has been provided.
Led by the military since 2020, Mali has appealed massively to what it presents as “instructors” who came from Russia to support its army, while Paris and Washington regularly denounce the presence in the country of “mercenaries” of the private Russian group Wagner, accusations firmly denied by Bamako.
In its press release, the GSIM claims to have “captured a soldier of the Russian Wagner forces in the region of Ségou during the first week of April”. “These murderous forces participated with the Malian army in a parachute operation on a market in the village of Moura, where they confronted several mujahideen before encircling this locality for five days and killing hundreds of innocent civilians”adds the text, written in Arabic, without further detail on the link between the capture of the Russian and the events of Moura.
At the end of March, Moura was the scene of a controversial operation by the Malian army. According to the Bamako authorities, the Malian soldiers there “neutralized” 203 jihadists, but the NGO Human Rights Watch accuses members of the Malian Armed Forces of having summarily executed 300 civilians there with the help of foreign fighters. The UN mission in Mali, Minusma, has since asked the Malian authorities in vain to allow it to go there to investigate in order to shed light on these events.
Three attacks against military camps
In addition, according to concordant sources, a Russian national in operation with Malian soldiers was killed on April 19 in central Mali. This is the first confirmed death of a Russian in military operations in the country since the junta took power.
On Sunday, the Malian army also announced the death of six soldiers in simultaneous attacks on three military camps in the center of the country. In an audio message sent to AFP, these operations were claimed by the katiba Macina, of the Fulani preacher Amadou Koufa. This group of fighters is subordinated to Iyad Ag Ghaly, the head of GSIM.
Since 2012, Mali has been plunged into a deep security crisis that the deployment of foreign forces has not been able to resolve. The ruling military junta has moved closer to Moscow at the same time as it turned away from France, which has been militarily engaged in the country against jihadists since 2013.
Starting in the north of the country, the jihadist violence spread towards the center and the south, before the conflict became complicated with the appearance of community militias and criminal gangs. The conflict has killed thousands of civilians and combatants, and central Mali is currently one of the main centers of crisis in the Sahel.
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