April 3 (UPI) — A mass grave was discovered in central Mali amid growing concerns of alleged abuse by the military, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
Witnesses in the village of Dogo identified six bodies found in the mass grave as people who had been arrested by the military on March 22, the human rights group said.
“This macabre discovery comes after weeks of escalating violence which has left civilians in central Mali caught in the crossfire, facing enforced disappearances and unlawful killings by the military on one side, and roadside bombs and abductions by armed groups on the other,” said Amnesty International West Africa researcher Gaetan Mootoo.
Residents also told the rights group military forces arrested and blindfolded nine men in Daresalam during a baptism ceremony on Feb. 21.
“Military forces fighting armed groups have also committed crimes under international law, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests,” Amnesty International said.
Amnesty International also confirmed 65 people, including children, have been killed by improvised explosives since the beginning of the year.
It also documented a increase in attacks on civilians by armed groups including Ansar Dine and GSIM.
Amnesty International said the attacks forced closures of 715 schools throughout the central and northern regions of the country.
“The increase in attacks has also resulted in the closure of hundreds of schools, leaving more than 214,000 children deprived of education. When bodies are thrown into mass graves, children are killed in rockets attacks and fear forces teachers and students to abandon their classrooms, there is an urgent need for measures to protect civilians from these crimes under international law and prevent further human rights violations,” Mootoo said.