Jihadists, armed militias and the armed forces in Mali killed close to 600 civilians in 2021, the UN said Thursday, with casualty numbers rising towards the end of the year.
In the last six months of 2021, civilian killings rose 16 percent, according to a report by the United Nation’s peacekeeping mission in the troubled Sahel state, known as Minusma.
Mali, an impoverished nation of 21 million people, has over the past decade been wracked by a jihadist insurgency. Vast swathes of the country are in thrall to myriad rebel groups and militias.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.
Mali’s under-equipped army has also often been accused of committing abuses during the brutal conflict.
On Thursday, Minusma’s human rights division said 318 civilians had been killed in the country in the second half of 2021, compared to 266 during the first six months.
Kidnappings, on the other hand, decreased from 425 during the first half of 2021 to 343 in the second half.
Jihadist groups had killed 206 civilians between July and December last year, and were responsible for abducting or disappearing 239 others, according to the Minusma report.
Other armed militias killed 70 civilians over the same period, while Malian armed forces killed 25.
In one incident in October in central Mali, the report said that Malian forces “arbitrarily executed at least seven civilians,” including an eight-year-old boy.
Mali’s army-dominated government has repeatedly denied accusations its military has committed abuses.
French troops and soldiers from neighbouring African states also operate in Mali.
The Minusma report said that foreign troops were responsible for killing five civilians during the second half of last year.
Human Rights Watch this month also released a report accusing Malian soldiers and jihadist groups of a wave of civilian killings.