(Al Jazeera) Mali’s army says it has killed 203 combatants in an operation in the centre of the Sahel state, with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country saying it has heard reports of civilian deaths, raising human rights concerns.
The army said on Friday that the military operation took place in the Mora region in central Mali from March 23 to 31. It arrested 51 people and seized large quantities of weapons, according to the army’s statement.
The announcement comes as numerous social media reports in Mali this week alleged that dozens of people, including civilians, had been killed in Mora.
The AFP news agency was unable to verify the army’s claimed death toll or the social media reports.
Poor access to Mali’s conflict areas and a relative lack of independent information sources means that figures provided by either the government or armed groups are difficult to confirm.
“The Mali military issued a statement after rumours on social media that 300 civilians were killed in the village of Mora which they said was a ‘terrorist fiefdom’. They said they neutralised over 300 ‘terrorists’,” said Al Jazeera’s Nicholas Haque, reporting from Dakar in neighbouring Senegal.