France’s defense ministry on Tuesday disputed a United Nations report that an airstrike in Mali resulted in the deaths of 19 civilians attending a wedding.
Reuters reported that the UN’s determination came after a division of the UN mission in the country interviewed more than 400 people and studied satellite images of the January 3, 2021 strike in the remote village called Bounti.
The UN report said its investigation revealed that a wedding was taking place at the time and that around 100 people were in attendance. The report says 19 civilians were killed along with three gunmen who were believed to be members of a group linked to Al Qaeda.
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French authorities said “several dozen” extremists were killed in the airstrike. On Tuesday, they said the UN report relied on unidentified witnesses and did not specify under what conditions their testimony was taken.
“Rather, this strike followed a robust targeting process,” the ministry said.
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“The Ministry of Defense cannot consider that this report provides the slightest evidence contradicting the facts described by the French armed forces,” said a statement, insisting that international humanitarian law governing armed conflicts was strictly observed during The strike.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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