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Civilians killed as armed groups clash in northern Mali


maliUp to nine civilians, including an aid worker for a European charity, were killed after rebels withdrew from a village they had seized in northern Mali, armed loyalist and anti-government groups said on Friday.

The west African nation’s main Tuareg-led rebel alliance, the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA), said in a statement overnight that “the Malian army conducted the summary and public executions of nine people in the town of Tin Hama” on Thursday.

“The nine people were first arrested by the GATIA militia and then handed over to Malian soldiers who then executed them,” the statement said, referring to the pro-government Imghad and Allies Tuareg Self-Defence Group.

Among the victims named by the CMA were Moussa Ag Mohamedoune, a 35-year-old worker for Action Against Hunger Spain, and a 13-year-old boy.

The information could not be independently verified, and no one from MINUSMA — the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali — or the Malian army was available for comment.

The CMA and GATIA both said the rebels took control of the village on Wednesday before withdrawing.

Tin Hama is situated near the flashpoint town of Menaka, seized from rebels by pro-government fighters on April 27 in an operation which has sparked numerous violations of a ceasefire agreement in the area.

“The CMA is responsible for what happened. They came on Wednesday to take Tin Hama, which is a base of GATIA where (pro-rebel) and pro-GATIA people had been coexisting peacefully,” said GATIA spokesman Algatek Ouwaha.

He did not say how many civilians had been killed but told AFP the rebels had “mistreated people, killed an old man and burned another”.

“After the departure of the CMA from the town, there was a terrible settling of scores against people accused of working with the CMA,” he added.

Action Against Hunger Spain confirmed Ag Mohamedoun’s death, describing him as a facilitator in food security.

The charity said it had decided to suspend its activities in northern Mali “in order to understand the precise circumstances of this tragedy”.

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