By Paul Ejime
A United Nations probe report released on Tuesday said total of 22 people died in a strike by French airplane in Bounti, central Mali on January 3.
It explained that 19 of the dead were civilian wedding guests who are “covered under the humanitarian law.”
But France, which has a 5,000-strong Barkhane forces in Mali swiftly rejected the report, saying the strike was against jihadists, and no wedding took place in the area.
The strike and similar others in the past triggered protests against French presence in Mali.
The report is based on the findings of a probe carried out by MINUSMA, the UN Mission of 15,000- personnel in Mali.
Mali suffers perennial insecurity in its North and Central regions, characterized by terrorist and separatist insurrections and ethnic violence.
Mali’s transitional government that resulted from the last military takeover of government in August 2020 is struggling to restore stability ahead of planned elections to return the politically restive former French colony to constitutional order.