Mali said on Tuesday that some of its soldiers were implicated in “gross violations’’ after the discovery of some mass graves.
The mass graves were discovered in its troubled Central Region plagued by violence between security forces and Islamist militants.
The statement from the Defence Ministry followed local media reports that 25 bodies had been found in mass graves after a military crackdown on suspected jihadists and allied ethnic militia in Central Mali.
Human rights groups accuse the Malian military of conducting extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture and arbitrary arrests against suspected sympathisers of jihadist groups, charges it has promised in the past to investigate.
“The Defence Ministry confirms the existence of mass graves implicating certain persons in (Malian Armed Forces) FAMA in gross violations that caused deaths in Nantaka and Kobaka in the region of Mopti,” a statement posted on the Defence Ministry’s website on Tuesday said.
It added that the defence minister instructed the public prosecutor to open an inquiry.
The ministry “reiterates its determination to fight impunity and engage its forces in the strict respect of human rights,’’ the statement added.
In April, Amnesty International raised an alarm over reports that six people were found dead in a mass grave in the Mopti region.
In February, the government said it was investigating accusations that the army had abducted and executed suspected jihadist sympathisers.
The military frequently report having killed several “terrorists’’ in its security campaign.
“The announced investigation is good news, but promises aren’t enough,” Human Rights Watch associate director for West Africa Corinne Dufka said in an email to Reuters.
“Since 2017, I’ve documented over 60 alleged executions by the army of suspects who are buried in at least 7 common graves, none of which have resulted in justice for the families.’’
The West African country has been in turmoil since Tuareg rebels and loosely allied Islamists took over its North in 2012, prompting French forces to intervene to push them back the following year.
Growing violence across the country has raised doubts about whether Mali would be able to hold credible elections scheduled for the end of July, in which President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita would seek a second term.