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Mali investigates charges of atrocities

PARIS — Malian authorities are investigating assertions of torture, killings, and reprisals by its own soldiers against minority civilians suspected of links to Islamist ­militants — accusations that threaten to jeopardize international support for fighting terrorism in the Sahara.

Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly insisted to the Associated Press that his government is taking the charges seriously and won’t tolerate such ‘‘atrocities.’’

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But he ­acknowledged that it’s a tough and sensitive task to investigate them in a poor, violence-scarred country with a weak, military-led government.

Concerns have mounted in recent weeks about abuses by Malian forces amid the French-led military campaign against Al Qaeda-linked rebels who overran northern Mali last year.

Arab and Tuareg families are particularly afraid of reprisals, minorities who are accused of having aided the rebels.

The AP has documented a shallow grave where the bodies of two Arabs from Timbuktu were dumped — two men last seen alive being arrested by Malian forces.

One of the last Arab residents of Timbuktu was picked up by Malian troops last week, the elderly man’s hands bound and body trembling. The reason for his arrest and his whereabouts are unclear.

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