The bodies are believed to be soldiers who went missing in 2012
A mass grave containing 21 bodies has been found near a military base in Mali, authorities said on Wednesday.
The bodies, believed to be those of soldiers loyal to Mali’s ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré, were found overnight Tuesday.
The remains were found buried at Diago, near the southern garrison town of Kati, about 25 km north of the capital Bamako.
President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in March 2012 in a military coup led by Amadou Sanogo, who was a captain then, and was later promoted to a general before being retired this year.
The coup plunged the West African nation into chaos and at least 23 soldiers loyal to the ousted president – known as red berets – disappeared in the month following the coup.
Mr. Sanogo had accused loyalists of the ousted president of plotting a counter-coup. After the foiled plot, pro-Toure paratroopers known as “red berets” were denounced on state television as mercenaries.
After ceding power to an interim civilian administration, Mr. Sanogo headed a military committee tasked with reforming Mali’s armed forces before he was removed in August.
He was arrested and charged with “murders and assassinations” last Wednesday in a move by Mali’s newly elected President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, to assert authority and rein in the military.
Residents of Diago said the existence of the mass grave was not a secret to the community as they remember soldiers arrived in the town last year to bury people.
“We told the authorities a long time ago that there was a mass grave here from when soldiers came to bury people here in 2012. The presence of the mass grave was not a secret here in Diago,” one resident was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.
Officials said while more work will be done to fully ascertain the identities of the bodies found in the grave, the figure matches the number of soldiers, at least 20, that Human Rights Watch said had disappeared after the army in-fighting in April 2012.
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