Mali: UN investigates reports of execution & abuses

Reports from Mali say that the Northern Mali separatist Tuareg-led rebels have clashed with pro-government militias, near the flashpoint town of Menaka.

The United Nations says it is investigating reports of serious human rights abuses, including the execution of civilians, following repeated clashes in the area. UN-brokered peace efforts in Mali’s north are in danger of disintegrating because of repeated violations of a ceasefire between CMA and pro-government factions. Most rebel groups boycotted the signing of a peace agreement last week, and have given it only preliminary approval.

The clashes on Thursday killed at least six civilians, including a Malian aid worker, rebels and a local source said.

The U.N. mission in Mali said on Friday it had sent a team of investigators to verify reports of serious abuses and the execution of civilians, possibly including an aid worker in Tin-Hamma, in Gao region.

“These abuses followed as a result of the clashes on May 20 between members of the Platform (pro-government militia) and the Coordination of Movements of Azawad,” the mission said.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, a member of the CMA coalition, said in a statement that nine people including two who worked for international aid agencies were arrested by pro-government militia and executed. It added that several others were missing.