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Wagner Group Fighters Linked to Massacre of 500 in African Village: UN

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  • The Wagner Group is linked to a massacre of 500 people in a village in Mali, a UN report found.
  • The vast majority of those who were killed were unarmed civilians, The Guardian reported.
  • The Russian paramilitary organization has a long-standing presence across Africa. 

The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization, is linked to the massacre of 500 people in a village in Mali, a recent UN report found. 

In March of 2022, government forces descended on the village of Moura in the Mopti region of Mali, ordering men into the center of the town and shooting those who tried to escape, according to an in-depth analysis of the UN report by The Guardian’s Africa correspondent Jason Burke

Most of those killed were unarmed civilians and a dozen alleged members of an al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist group.

Over five days, hundreds of people were killed in the village during the atrocity. The UN report, published last week after months of research, found evidence that 500 people were killed by the Malian military and foreign Russian troops, underscoring the extent of the human rights abuses at the time. 

Outside the war in Ukraine, the event is the worst atrocity associated with the Wagner Group, The Guardian reported. 

According to the UN report, witnesses of the tragedy said they saw «armed white men» speaking a foreign language working with the Malian military. 

A Malian government spokesperson called the report «biased» and «based on a fictional account.»

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The spokesperson said a Malian investigation found only «armed terrorists» and «not a single civilian in Moura» were killed during the military operation, per The Guardian. 

The Russian mercenary troops, founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, have supported Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine. But the military group also has various ties to African countries, according to the Associated Press, and has been accused of supporting other violent military operations in the region, per The Guardian. 

While in many cases, it is difficult to categorically link the private Russian troops’ involvement in these operations, there is exhaustive evidence in the UN report providing an hour-by-hour account of how Wagner Group soldiers were behind the March 2022 attack, per The Guardian.

«These are extremely disturbing findings,» said Volker Türk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, according to The Guardian.

«Summary executions, rape and torture during armed conflict amount to war crimes and could, depending on the circumstances, amount to crimes against humanity.»

In the past few years, Russia has had a commanding presence in multiple African countries, with the assistance of the Wagner Group, to advance its global power. 

More than a year ago, the Kremlin-linked military contractor group began working with Malian armed forces to quell Islamic extremism in the country, per the AP. Since the Russian soldiers arrived, violence against civilians and human rights abuses have only grown.

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