France’s seven-year-long counter-terrorism mission in several of its former African colonies has been denounced as the country’s “forever war” and “neo-colonialism,” and as civilian deaths continue to mount, it is becoming increasingly unpopular both at home and abroad.
In a report issued on Tuesday, United Nations investigators found that a January airstrike in Mali that the French government claimed only killed terrorists had actually killed almost exclusively civilians.
According to MINUSMA, about 100 people had traveled to the village from several surrounding hamlets to participate in the wedding, which had been planned for months.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, reports emerged citing locals that a helicopter had strafed the wedding. The next day, the French Defense Ministry released a statement saying that 40 men from an “armed terrorist group” had been killed at the site, but it was by two Mirage 2000 fighter jets guided by an MQ-9 Reaper drone, not a helicopter.
MINUSMA immediately opened a probe into the incident, as did Human Rights Watch, and on January 21 HRW issued its own report finding that 19 civilians had been killed – the same number MINUSMA reported on Tuesday.
‘Numerous Reservations’ About UN Report
The French Foreign Ministry has totally rejected the UN report, and in a Tuesday reply accused the investigators of being bamboozled. The ministry said it had used a “robust targeting…