Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress
The French army was on Tuesday accused of “spying” and “subversion” when it used a drone to film what France alleged was mercenaries burying bodies near a military base.
The drone “illegally” flew over the Gossi base on April 20, the day after French forces handed the site back to Mali, the junta said in a statement.
The French army shared a video the following day, saying it showed Russian mercenaries covering bodies with sand to falsely accuse the departing troops of war crimes. Two soldiers could be seen filming the half-buried corpses.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mali’s military announced an inquiry into the discovery of a mass grave at the Gossi base.
The army said it found the grave the day after the images were published, and claimed the bodies’ advanced stage of putrefaction ruled out Malian soldiers’ responsibility.
It subsequently accused the France of spying and attempting to sully the reputation of Malian forces with the drone-filmed video.
“The said drone was present… to spy on our brave FAMa (Malian armed forces),” government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga said.
“In addition to the spying, French forces were guilty of subversion by publishing false images worked up to accuse the FAMa of responsibility for killing civilians, with the aim of tarnishing their image.”
Bamako said “foreign aircraft, notably operated by French forces” had deliberately violated Malian airspace more than 50 times since the start of the year.
France, Mali’s former colonial power, is winding down its almost decade-long, anti-jihadist military operation in the West African state.
But in February, it decided to pull out its troops after falling out with the military junta, especially over its rapprochement with the Kremlin.
France and the United States have accused mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked security firm Wagner of deploying in Mali, where the junta claims the Russians are just military instructors helping to restore order.