Mali military discovers mass grave near former French base
Malian troops have discovered a mass grave close to a military base French forces handed back to the West African nation just days ago in Gossi.
The Gossi military base in the north of the country was handed over to the Forces Armées Maliennes (FAMa) on Tuesday as part of the French forces' planned exit from the country.
Paris plans to end its failed almost decade-long military operation under the pretext of eradicating terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the Sahel country.
The army general staff revealed in a statement that "bodies in a state of advanced putrefaction were discovered in a mass grave, not far from the camp formerly occupied by the French force Barkhane."France and the United States were quick to blame Russian
forces deployed in Mali for the killings.
The French army claimed Russian fighters buried bodies near the Gossi base with the intention of framing the French for the killings, according to French and American news agencies.
Leaders of West Africa’s Sahel region have abandoned their hopes in purported counter-terrorism efforts by France and started negotiating with armed militants to bring peace to the restive region.
France's exit from Mali came as swathes of territory remained under the control of rebel militants linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh.
The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatists started targeting the local population in Mali.
As a former colonial power seeking significant military presence in Africa, France decided to send thousands of soldiers in 2013 to try to prevent separatist forces from reaching Mali’s capital, Bamako.
France increased the number of its forces in the Sahel from 600 to 5,100 soldiers for its Operation Barkhane last year.
However, the military boost failed to bring the situation under control and the UN also deployed its peacekeeping forces to the region.
The French Barkhane force is also involved in Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, and Mauritania.
Observers accuse France of pursuing neo-colonialism in Africa, falsely claiming to fight terrorism as a pretext to maintain its influence in the region.
Anti-French sentiment is rampant in Mali and Burkina Faso. On the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital, many say that France is actually trying to keep the country weak so the former colonial power can exploit secret gold and oil reserves in the Sahara.
African nations that suffered under French colonial rule still remember France's colonial- era crimes, despite the passage of decades since their independence from Paris.