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21 bodies found in mass grave near Mali capital

04 December 2013, 18:46

Bamako - Twenty-one bodies, believed to be those of soldiers close to Mali's ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, were found overnight Tuesday in a mass grave near the capital Bamako, officials told AFP.

"We have found 21 bodies, probably of 'red beret' soldiers, in a mass grave in Diago. The bodies were exhumed," a Malian justice ministry official said.

The information was confirmed by a security official who said "that identity cards found in the mass grave seem to confirm that they were missing 'red beret' soldiers."

The discovery comes a week after the arrest and detention of Amadou Haya Sanogo, who led the 22 March 2012 coup against Toure that plunged Mali into chaos.

The government says Sanogo has been charged with complicity in kidnappings, but a source close to the judge in the case told AFP the charges also include murder, complicity to murder and carrying out kidnappings.

Fifteen people, mainly soldiers from his inner circle, were arrested immediately afterward.

Sanogo's coup toppled what had been heralded as one of west Africa's most stable democracies and precipitated a crisis in which al-Qaeda-linked groups seized control of the country's north, enforcing a brutal form of Islamic law until a French-led military intervention forced them out.

In the months after the coup and a failed counter-coup in April 2012, Sanogo's then-headquarters in the central town of Kati were the scene of abuses and killings carried out against soldiers seen as loyal to Toure.



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