The UN released a report on May 12th confirming Malian government responsibility in the massacre of 500+ civilians in the village of Moura, in March 2022. Accompanying the Malian troops, according to witnesses, were “armed white men” who “spoke an unknown language”. While the report did not explicitly state who these “armed white men” were, initial investigations and witness testimonies point to it very likely being Wagner mercenaries, who have been in the country since the French military withdrawal. The UN also accused Wagner of involvement in January, when they called on the Malian government to investigate the attacks. The massacre took place over the course of 5 days, March 27th-31st, 2022.
The massacre was apart of a government attempt to push jihadists out of the town. Initially, a helicopter flew over the village where it began firing upon people in the town, followed by four other helicopters, carrying troops, which landed. After they landed, soldiers from the helicopters began rounding people up and forcing them into the centre of the village, shooting any who attempted escape. A number of militants were in the crowd, who began firing back at the soldiers. In the ensuing firefight, 20 civilians and 12 ‘Katiba Macina’ members were killed.
The following day the massacre began. Malian troops, who were being supervised by the “armed white men”, went door to door in a search for jihadists. They selected those with long beards, people with marks on their shoulders (they interpreted this as a sign they regularly carried weapons), people with ankle-length trousers, and even those who simply just showed fear. Several of them were summarily executed.
In the South-East end of the village, a group of civilians was gathered. Those who attempted to resist or flee were captured and then executed, or merely shot as they ran. The remainder of the group was led away, where they were then shot in the back, head, or chest, and were then thrown into a ditch. Reportedly, both Malian troops and the Wagner men took part in this action.
The report further states a number of instances of torture of civilians during questionings, sometimes for hours. It also states that at LEAST 58 women were raped over the course of the attack, some of which multiple times.
Notably, witnesses said that the actual Malian troops were typically rotated in and out daily, but the same Wagner mercenaries were present throughout the entire operation.
After the attack the Malian government stated they would launch an investigation into the matter, but more than a year on and nothing has happened, and no arrests have been made.
The full report, by the UN’s Human Rights Office, may be read here:
Malian troops, foreign military personnel killed over 500 people during military operation in Moura in March 2022 – UN human rights report | OHCHR