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Witness describes killings by Malian army

Fields burned along the road from Sango to Niono, which was seized by Islamists and then bombed by French forces.

Fabio Bucciarelli/AFP/Getty Images

Fields burned along the road from Sango to Niono, which was seized by Islamists and then bombed by French forces.

DJENNE, Mali — Malian soldiers killed people accused of ties to radical Islamists at a bus stop around the time the French-led military intervention began, a witness said Wednesday, describing how soldiers shot the victims and threw their bodies into wells.

The account from the witness, who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals, came the same day a French human rights group accused Malian forces of dozens of “summary executions” and other abuses as they confront extremists.

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“They gathered all the people who didn’t have national identity cards and the people they suspected of being close to the Islamists to execute them and put them in two different wells near the bus station.”

The soldiers later poured gasoline in the wells and set the bodies ablaze, he said.

The man described seeing at least three people killed at the Sevare bus stop Jan. 10, a day before the French launched a military offensive.

The military blocked journalists from reaching Sevare on Wednesday, expanding its security cordon to Djenne. Reporters were turned away at checkpoints by soldiers, who cited the national state of emergency and concerns for the journalists’ safety.

On Wednesday, the International Federation for Human Rights called for the creation of an independent commission to look into the crimes.

The group charged that Malian forces were behind about 33 killings, including of ethnic Tuaregs, along the narrow belt between the government-controlled south and the north, which has been under the control of Al Qaeda-linked militants for months.

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