French forces were in the region, but assert that a “fully identified armed terrorist group” was attacked
During a wedding ceremony in a remote desert region in central Mali, more than 20 people, including children, were killed in airstrikes, local sources said. The Associated Press was informed by a man wounded in the attack that the extremists confronted a group of civilians celebrating a marriage and requested that the men present distinguish themselves from the women. When I heard the sound of an airplane and an immediate thud from above, we were about to carry out the instructions.
After that, since I was unconscious, I didn’t see anything,’ said the man from a health center in Douentza, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. Other villagers in Bounti said that a single helicopter opened fire in broad daylight, causing panic among the crowd gathered for a wedding.’ It was ‘Run for your lives,’ said Ahmadou Ghana, who said 19 people died, including two of his broth On Sunday, during a wedding, Tabital Pulakuu, an organisation supporting the culture of the Fulani ethnic community in Mali, announced a “air attack that took the lives of at least 20 civilians.” In a remote region where many jihadists are thought to operate, verifying reports is difficult. A French military spokesman, Col. Frederic Barbry, denied a connection between the attack and a wedding celebration. Barbry told The Associated Press that the operation followed a multi-day intelligence mission that demonstrated a “suspicious gathering of people.” The French military was able to assume that it was a “armed terrorist group,” he said, based on the attitude of the people, their weapons and other intelligence. France has deployed more than 5,100 military forces in the area to combat Islamist jihadist militants.
In Mali, offensive air operations are carried out mainly by the Malian military or the French anti-jihadist Barkhane army. Bounti is located in the Mopti region, about 370 miles from Bamako, the Malian capital. The region is the center of a deadly Islamist offensive that started in 2012 in northern Mali and then spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, stirring ethnic tensions.