The French army has filmed what it claims are Russian mercenaries burying bodies near the Gossi base in northern Mali in an attempt to accuse the French of leaving a mass grave.
A few hours later, the Malian army said it had discovered “remains in an advanced state of decay” near this base, which the French army had returned four days ago, and announced the opening of an investigation.
A video taken with a drone that AFP had access to and which the French General Staff describes as an “informative attack” shows soldiers dealing with corpses they cover with sand. In another series, we see two of these soldiers filming the half-buried bodies.
The staff assures that it is white soldiers it has identified on videos and photos taken in other places. Some photos also show vehicles leaving a base whose structure and environment match Gossi’s hold, where an AFP team has already been twice.
This sequence comes a few days after the departure of French soldiers from this camp, as part of the French withdrawal from Mali announced in February. The keys to this hold, which held 300 French soldiers, were handed over to the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) on Tuesday.
It is the first time that the French army has broadcast military drone footage in such a short time to counter an informational attack, as the battle for influence now rages on social networks.
For its part, the Malian General Staff announced that they had discovered “a mass grave not far from the camp formerly occupied by the French army Barkhane”, named after the French anti-jihadist operation in the Sahel.
‘The state of advanced rotting of the bodies indicates that this mass grave existed well before its completion. Therefore, the responsibility for this act cannot in any way be attributed to the FAMA,” he said in a press release. The Defense Ministry has been “confiscated for opening an investigation to shed all light on the said mass grave.”
At the start of the case, images were broadcast on the Twitter account on Thursday of a man named Dia Diarra, who proclaims himself a ‘former soldier’ and ‘Malian patriot’. This account was created in January 2022, AFP found.
After warning of the impending release of a video showing the abuses by the French on Wednesday, he posted a photo of faint corpses buried in the sand the next day, stating: “This is what the French left behind.” when she got the base at #Gossi (…) we can’t shut up about that!’. The same account later posted a short video of the half-buried bodies.
“We are witnessing a structured informational maneuver” based on the “scaling up of an initial tweet,” said French General Staff spokesman Colonel Pascal Ianni.
Dia Diarra’s account “is most likely a fake account created by Wagner,” the Russian private military company, the French General Staff estimates. “This maneuver aimed at discrediting the Barkhane forces appears to be coordinated. It is representative of the multiple intelligence attacks to which French soldiers have been subjected over many months.
According to the French army, “the comparison of the photos published on Twitter and the images collected by the specialized sensor makes it possible to establish a direct link between what Wagner’s mercenaries do and what is wrongly given to the French soldiers. attributed”.
According to her, these “accuracies testify to the action of Wagner’s mercenaries, who have been observed since (his) deployment in the Central African Republic and have been denounced by many international organizations and NGOs”.
Paris concluded its military withdrawal from Mali in February, in a deteriorating security context and against a backdrop of tensions between France and the military junta in power, accused by Westerners of using the services of the Wagner group. Bamako, in turn, calls on simple Russian advisers.
On Tuesday, the French General Staff had warned of informational attacks on the occasion of the handover of the Gossi base.
His spokesman, Colonel Pascal Ianni, had indicated that a “documented” inventory of the base had been prepared to protect France from possible accusations. An allusion to anti-French sentiment that has gained ground in the region and has made France the subject of smear campaigns on social networks.