Mali’s military junta on Saturday denounced as fictitious and biased a United Nations report that said the army and foreign fighters executed at least 500 people during a 2022 anti-jihadi operation.
Denouncing revelations that the U.N. had used satellites to gather information for its report, the authorities also announced an investigation into what it called espionage.
The statement came a day after the U.N. released its long-awaited report into the events that unfolded in the central town of Moura between March 27-31, 2022.
“No civilian from Moura lost their life during the military operation,” said a statement read out on state television by government spokesperson colonel Abdoulaye Maiga. “Among the dead, there were only terrorist fighters.”
Condemning what it called a “biased report based on a fictitious narrative,” the government also expressed surprise that the U.N. investigators had used satellites above Moura to gather information, without government clearance.
It was launching an investigation into espionage, attack on the external security of the state and “military conspiracy,” it added.
The figures cited by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights amount to the worst atrocity the Sahel country has experienced since a jihadi insurgency flared in 2012.
It is also the most damning document yet against Mali’s armed forces and their foreign allies.
The nationality of the foreign fighters is not explicitly identified in the report, but Mali has brought in Russians that Western countries and others say are Wagner mercenaries.